Residents of Hunts Point in the Bronx may at last be rid of a decades-old stench that on hot days makes the area smell “like a decaying body.” The city says it will end its $34 million-a-year contract with the organic fertilizer company, located at Oak Point Ave. & Truxton St., Hunts Point, Bronx, from whose premises the smell emanates.
“This is a huge victory,” said Rep. José E. Serrano, a longtime opponent from the plant, which is in his district. “It was horrible—the smell, the stench. People living in the poorest Congressional district in the nation, in many cases with very little education, knew this was something they could not tolerate.” According to the Times opponents of the plant name the smell as “a symbol of the city’s disregard for Hunts Point.”
Locals blame the stench—which if you ask some, smells like “a filthy toilet,” if you ask others, “rotting meat”—for their children’s asthma, for gardens left uncared for, for canceled picnics and for indoor recesses. Many view it as an indicator of how the city neglects its low-income and minority residents. “Would they build something like that next to Mayor Bloomberg’s house?” said Wanda Salaman, executive director for Mothers on the Move, a group that helped sue the plant in 2008. According to Serrano, New York Organic Fertilizer Company “meant everything that was unfair about the treatment of the Bronx.”
U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), who represents parts of the Bronx, said the City’s decision was a victory for the residents. “The South Bronx is no longer the City’s destination for sewage sludge and it never will be again,” said Serrano. “That is the true victory for our borough.”
Residents and Attorney General Cuomo waged lawsuits and complaints against the plant, and now the city may send the waste to Virginia or Suffolk County. But the organic fertilizer manufacturer wants it to reconsider on environmental grounds. “New York shut all of its own landfills years ago because of their role in polluting the air, water and land,” said the company in a statement. “A change now from recycling back to landfilling would represent a reversal in the city’s expansion of its laudatory green policies.”