Fresh Kills Landfill was – at the height of its operation in 2001 – the largest landfill in the world, spanning a massive 2,200 acres in the New York City borough of Staten Island. The landfill, which opened in 1948 as a temporary landfill, is now on its way to becoming the largest park developed in New York City since the 19th century. As resources are poured into restoring the land, little attention has been given to understanding the long-term health affects associated with the operation of a landfill in a dense residential community for over six decades.
Council Member Borelli’s office did their own research and uncovered alarming rates of varying cancers and other illnesses, including developmental disabilities such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, that ranked higher on Staten Island than other parts of the city.
In fact, when comparing the data compiled by Council Member Borelli’s office to other health studies that had examined the impact of landfills on the health of their surrounding residential populations, a common theme was the illnesses and disabilities caused by air and water pollution associated with the landfill. The last formal health study on Fresh Kills Landfill was conducted in the 1990’s, but it was not comprehensive enough. Council Member Borelli is now calling on Mayor de Blasio to approve a new $500,000 health study that would be conducted by the College of Staten Island and provide a clearer idea of the impact Fresh Kills Landfill has had on Staten Island. Once that is accomplished, funding for medical screenings and other health initiatives can be justified.