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Fresh Kills Landfill: Wikis


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The Fresh Kills Landfill on the New York City borough of Staten Island in the United States, was formerly the largest landfill in the world, at more than 2200 acres (890 hectares),[1] and was New York City's principal landfill in the second half of the 20th century. The name "Fresh Kills" refers to its location along the banks of the Fresh Kills estuary in western Staten Island.



Opened in 1948 in what was then a rural agricultural area, it became one of the largest refuse heaps in human history. The site is 12 square km (4.6 square miles) in area. When opened, a fairly limited lifespan of twenty years was planned after which the area would be split into industrial, park, and residential areas [2]

At the peak of operations, the contents of twenty barges - each carrying 650 tons of garbage - were added to the site every day.[3] It could be regarded as being the largest man-made structure on Earth,[3] with the site's volume eventually exceeding the Great Wall of China.[3] In fact, in 2001 its peak was 25 meters taller than the Statue of Liberty.[3] Under local pressure and with support of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the landfill site was closed on March 22, 2001. However, after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the landfill was temporarily reopened to receive and process much of the debris from the destruction. The debris was never removed and is buried in a 40 acre portion of the landfill. The New York City Medical Examiner has stated in a written affidavit that he is "virtually certain" the debris contains human remains [4].



Operations during the 1960s were conducted in three different locations named "Plant 1", "Plant 2", and "Brookfield Avenue." Plant #1 was located at the site of an old factory on the south side of junction of the Great Fresh Kills and Little Fresh Kills. It was reachable via Muldoon Avenue. Plant #2 was located a bit upstream on the north side of Fresh Kills near where Richmond Creek branches off. It was reachable from Victory Blvd. The Brookfield Avenue site was north of the Arthur Kill Road and Brookfield Avenue intersection.

Plant 1 was the administrative headquarters and also the main repair facility. Plant 1 and Plant 2 were marine unload operations. Barges arrived from the other boroughs (primarily Manhattan and Brooklyn). Garbage was picked up by a crane (called a "digger") using clamshell bucket and deposited in a tracked side dump vehicle called an "Athey wagon." (not related to equipment of the same name used for oil drilling) Two wagons were then pulled to the active dump site by tractor (Caterpillar D7, D8, D9) and emptied. The Plant 1 digger was electric but the Plant 2 one was steam powered. The diggers were supplemented by other cranes (mostly mounted on barges). A typical day would unload twelve barges (six at each plant). Operations were carried out from 8AM to midnight six days a week. The midnight to 8AM shift was maintenance.

To expand the Plant 2 operating area, a wooden trestle bridge was built across Fresh Kills creek. This allowed dumping east to Richmond Avenue. As the actual dump site moved further from paved roads, it become more difficult for trucks to unload. The Brookfield Avenue site was opened in 1966 and used exclusively for trucks.

The dump was in a state of flux. Original plans showed the dump with a twenty year life span. One plan for the West Shore Expressway bridge included a tide gate which would have blocked Plant 2's access. The bridge, when finally built in 1959, actually enhanced operations. The bridge was finished long before the rest of the expressway and was used by workers to travel between the two plants.

Animals were a problem. Feral dog packs roamed the dump and were a hazard to employees. Rats also posed a problem. Attempts to suppress the population with just poison failed. The area was declared a wild bird sanctuary and a number of hawks, falcons, and owls were brought in. The area became a popular spot for birdwatching. Rat sightings especially during the day dropped dramatically.

Usage after September 11th Attacks

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Fresh Kills was temporarily in use as a sorting ground for roughly one third of the rubble from Ground Zero. More than 1600 personal effects were retrieved during this time.

Fresh Kills Park Project

An illustration of the future Fresh Kills Park.

The site is now planned to be a city park. Starting in 2003, the site is planned to be transformed into reclaimed wetlands, recreational facilities and landscaped public parkland, the largest expansion of the New York City parks since the development of the chain of parks in the Bronx during the 1890s. In January, 2005, Staten Island Borough president James Molinaro announced plans to open three roads leading out of the former landfill to regular traffic, as part of an effort to ease the road congestion. Construction on the actual park is expected to start after the completion of environmental and land use reviews at the end of 2007. The three-phased development of the park, which will include a September 11th memorial, is expected to last 30 years. The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published for public review on 16 May 2008.

Fresh Kills Park will be three times the size of Central Park. It will consist of a variety of public spaces and facilities for a multitude of activity types. The site is large enough to support many sports and programs including nature trails, horseback riding, mountain biking, community events, outdoor dining, sports fields and canoeing.[5]

Staten Island Transfer Station

Staten Island Transfer Station is located on the site of the former Fresh Kills landfill. 40°34′49″N 74°11′38″W / 40.580267°N 74.193994°W / 40.580267; -74.193994 The transfer station - an integral part of New York City's Solid Waste Management Plan - is expected to process an average of 900 tons per day of Staten Island-generated residential and municipal waste. The waste is compacted inside the 79,000-square-foot (7,300 m2) facility into sealed 12-foot (3.7 m) high by 20-foot (6.1 m) long intermodal shipping containers, which are then loaded, four containers each car, onto flatbed rail cars to be hauled by rail to an Allied Waste landfill in South Carolina. The eight mile (13 km) Staten Island Railway freight service which connects the facility to the national rail freight network via the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge was reactivated in April 2007, after it had been closed in 1991.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Fresh Kills Park Project Introduction". New York City Department of City Planning. 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-13.  
  2. ^ Worldpress 1951 Report
  3. ^ a b c d Lloyd, John; Mitchinson, John (2006-10-05). QI: The Book of General Ignorance. Faber and Faber. ISBN 0571233686.  
  4. ^ Hartocollis, Anemona (24 March 2007). "Landfill Has 9/11 Remains, Medical Examiner Wrote". New York Times. Retrieved 26 November 2009.  
  5. ^ The park is also planned to hold a memorial for those who died during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The landfill (shortly after its closing) was used as a recovery project site for searching the debris of the attacks. It is undecided whether or not the remains will be moved from the site before the park construction is complete. "Fresh Kills Park, New York City". Retrieved 2007-08-27.  
  6. ^ Government of New York City (2007-04-17). "Mayor Bloomberg officially reactivates the Staten Island railroad". Press release. Retrieved 2007-08-27.  

External links

Coordinates: 40°34′36″N 74°11′14″W / 40.57667°N 74.18733°W / 40.57667; -74.18733


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