Dec. 12, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Several politicians held a press conference Friday to call on local power plant operators to stop burning toxic fuel oil, citing public health risks.
The elected officials, who gathered near the Ravenswood power plan on Vernon Avenue, claimed that more than 50 percent of the City’s power comes from plants in Astoria and Long Island City, with some of those facilities burning toxic oil.
The politicians called on power plant operators to stop burning No. 4 and No. 6 oil, both deemed to be extremely hazardous and have been linked to a higher rate of respiratory disease among local residents.
“For decades, power plants in our communities here in Western Queens have strongly contributed to increased asthma rates and increases in hospitalizations and ER visits that exceed the average in Queens,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides.
“Our city has made great progress in ending the use of dirty fuel oil in buildings. Now more than ever, these plants must become better neighbors and stop the practice of burning No. 6 and No. 4 oil while looking to repower these older facilities.”
The city signed into law last year legislation that requires City-based power plant operators to stop using No. 6 oil by 2020, and number 4 oil by 2030. However, local leaders are calling on the operators to cease using such oil now.
“Today we stand together to say our community deserves better and will not stand for the polluting status quo,” Constantinides said.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said the pollution was particularly troubling into terms of its affect on children.
“Astoria and Long Island City have one of the highest childhood asthma rates in New York City,” Van Bramer said. “This is unacceptable. Our communities should not be known as ‘asthma alley.’”
State Senator Mike Gianaris echoed these sentiments.
“Combating climate change and improving air quality are now more pressing concerns than ever. Reducing carbon emissions and other pollutants will increase the health and wellness of our seniors, children and other local residents and preserve our environment for generations to come,” he said.