It was business as usual along the CSX rail lines in North Bergen last week, especially at the two new construction trash stations that were erected last month to hold tons of the debris before it gets shipped off to points west.
U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Hayden had ruled in November that the waste stations can remain in operation because of a long-standing federal law that protects the commerce of rail companies.
Her ruling slashed legislators’ hopes of shutting down the trash facilities, run by the New York Susquehanna & Western Railway Corp.
Several rail cars were spotted outside both of the NYS&W’s new trash stations last week – one at 3700 West Side Avenue (near Paterson Plank Road) and the other on 83rd Street off West Side – were proof positive that business is booming.
There was a scare in July concerning the storage of potentially-dangerous phosphorus pentasulfide tanks along a NYS&W parking lot. Litigation ensued from both sides. Since then, the company has built two new waste storage facilities in North Bergen, on 83rd Street and Paterson Plank Road, so that the trash is contained.
Now, North Bergen officials are looking to at least gain something monetarily from the operation.
Fees for trash According to North Bergen business administrator Chris Pianese, the township is trying to receive host fees from the NYS&W for conducting the trash transfer business within the boundaries of the township.
“We’re hoping to pull in some revenue from this operation,” Pianese said. “That’s going to be our focus over the next month. To be honest, they’re in a much better position now than they were six months ago. The judge’s ruling saw to that. We’re not happy with it. As long as they’re going to continue to fall under federal law, they’re going to continue to operate, and I’ve heard that they want to build a few more trash transfer stations.
Added Pianese, “In the past, they’ve [the NYS&W] been receptive to the host fee issue. I think we’re all still dealing with the judge’s decision and we’re trying to make the best of it.”
Pianese said that everything is at a standstill in terms of securing the host fees, because negotiations between the NYS&W and the state Department of Environmental Protection regarding a $2.5 million fine levied against the railroad company last summer have been tabled until Gov.-Elect Jon Corzine officially takes office and a new DEP chairman is appointed.
“There seems to be no movement in that aspect until the administration officially changes hands,” Pianese said. “Any time you have a sensitive issue like this, it’s bound to take some time. So I feel our discussions with the NYS&W will have to wait until that is settled.”
Pianese feels that the dilemma could be solved if the collected trash is kept contained in the enclosed stations. “If they are enclosed and it remains strictly construction debris, plus we can tax them and get some revenues, then it’s not a bad thing,” Pianese said. “But we have to have some sort of regulation. We can’t have these trash stations just popping up randomly along the rail line. We want restrictions on the type of garbage. We want them all enclosed and we want the host fee. If that all happens, then we can live with it.”
It appears as if the garbage being collected at the two new transfer stations has been restricted to construction debris since they opened last month.
NYS&W officials did not return phone calls by press time for this report.