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Neighbors left out of garbage talks

The Albuquerque Journal recently applauded the city for giving the “green light” to a $39 million garbage dump transfer station proposed for the corner of Edith and Griegos NW. This site is two blocks from a residential area, half a mile from an elementary school, and across the street from the historic adobe Batten House.

Bordering the site is the primary bike lane connecting our area with the rest of the city. A University of New Mexico law professor was run over and killed by a Solid Waste garbage truck while trying to negotiate a grate across that lane a couple of years ago.

The plan envisions every dump truck in the city converging on this corner daily to unload all of Albuquerque’s trash. Then, every day, diesel 18-wheelers will rumble in to load up the stinking garbage to carry to the dump.

Private garbage haulers and contractors will also be welcome to join the long, idling line at the facility to dump their trash.


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What’s more, it is proposed that the other two current solid waste transfer stations on the outskirts of town will close to consolidate all the waste on our corner.

Isn’t this “green light” a bit premature?

No environmental impact study has been done and no one has communicated with our neighborhood associations about this proposal. We first read about it in the recent Journal editorial that supported it.

The city hired a private California company to do a “feasibility analysis” in 2011 (updated in 2014) which did not address pollution, odor, traffic or any other expected burdens on our neighborhood.

To be fair, the firm was not hired to produce a balanced analysis. They were clearly tasked with proving that this development would save money for the city, period.

The report reads like a sales brochure.

When I spoke to the author of the feasibility analysis on the phone, he told me that “it wasn’t meant to be a public discussion.” Mayor Richard Berry’s appointee who directs the Solid Waste Management Department told me that there will be plenty of time later for input from the neighborhood, as the building wouldn’t start for years. In the meantime – between the lobbying, promotion and money being spent on this proposal – when will the people who live nearby be notified or allowed to voice an opinion?

A variety of studies have shown that environmental risks are distributed differently across demographic, racial and economic groups. Waste treatment, storage, disposal and transfer facilities are more likely to be built in working-class communities that are expected to have fewer resources and less political clout.

As in other parts of the country, polluting industries and high-traffic propositions gravitate toward neighborhoods like ours. We have a number of them in our immediate area already.

We look forward to having a dialogue about the pros and cons of this proposed facility whenever the city decides it’s finally time to talk to us about it.