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Post date: June 20 2003

Hunt's Point Market To Reduce Diesel Fumes In The South Bronx

State Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with the Hunt's Point Produce Market that will reduce air pollution from idling trucks and help improve the quality of life in the South Bronx. Spitzer was joined at the news conference by Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Christopher Ward, Hunt's Point Produce Market Co-op President Matthew D'Arrigo and environmental activists.

Emissions from trucks and buses contain pollutants that have been linked to cancer, respiratory diseases and other serious health problems. These pollutants include smog-forming nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, and microscopic particles of soot and other pollutants that can lodge deep in a person's lungs.

Scientists in the Attorney General's Office estimated that annual emissions from illegal idling in the Produce Market may be more than 32 tons of nitrogen oxides, 31 tons of carbon monoxide, and 9.6 tons of volatile organic compounds. (These levels of emissions are comparable to those from the largest industrial sources of pollution in the Bronx.)

"Idling trucks and buses are a significant, and entirely unnecessary, source of harmful air and noise pollution," said Spitzer. "Today's agreement will dramatically reduce, and we hope will ultimately eliminate, illegal idling at a major market in the South Bronx. I'd like to thank the Board of the Hunt's Point Produce Market for their cooperation in the investigation and for agreeing to enforce the idling laws at their site."

"There is no higher priority in Hunt's Point than reducing air pollution and the childhood asthma and other conditions it causes. While there is still a long road ahead in dealing with truck-related environmental and traffic issues in the South Bronx, this agreement marks a big step forward and represents a real victory. Attorney General Spitzer and the Produce Market are to be warmly congratulated for their creative, cooperative and public-spirited response," said Borough President Carrion.

Commissioner Ward, whose agency enforces the City's idling regulations, said: "The Bloomberg administration welcomes this effort to decrease pollutants from diesel trucks idling at Hunt's Point. Diesel trucks are one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the City, and Bronx residents will be comforted to know that the City's strong law against engine idling is being enforced in one of the most troublesome spots in the five boroughs. This agreement will extend authority to the Produce Market to take concrete steps that should improve air quality significantly."

Hunt's Point is the largest produce terminal market in the United States, handling approximately half of all the produce sold in the New York metropolitan area. At any given time, there may be 500 or more diesel-powered trucks in the market. During a brief investigation in the fall of 2002, the Attorney General's Office documented 71 instances of illegal idling. Most of the trucks illegally idling were out-of-state long-haul tractor trailers, which are not owned or operated by the Market. The State idling law applies to anyone who has control over the operation of trucks or buses on land they own or lease, as is the case with the Hunt's Point Produce Market.

Under the agreement, Hunt's Point will:

  • Educate drivers in the Market about State and City idling laws using brochures, signs and other means, including hiring two full-time peace officers by July 1, 2003 and additional peace officers by November 1, 2003;

  • Begin issuing summonses for idling violations by November 1, 2003;

  • Explore the use of anti-idling technologies;

  • Implement a $105,000 community benefit project to improve public health in the South Bronx; and

  • Report to the Attorney General's office on its enforcement efforts twice a year for at least three years.

"We are committed to working with the Attorney General to make this agreement work for the betterment of the 10,000 people who work in this market every day and for our neighbors in the surrounding community," said Matthew D'Arrigo, co-owner of D'Arrigo Brothers Co. produce wholesaler and the president of the Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative Association.

To counter the harm caused by diesel exhaust, state law provides that trucks and buses with diesel engines may not idle for more than five consecutive minutes, except when powering an auxiliary function – such as loading or unloading cargo or mixing concrete – required for maintenance, or when performing emergency services. Under New York City law, trucks and buses with any kind of engine that are not legally authorized emergency vehicles may not idle for more than three consecutive minutes, except when powering a loading, unloading or processing device.

Residents and activists in Hunt's Point also praised the agreement.

Majora Carter, executive director of Sustainable South Bronx and a Hunt's Point resident, said: "With the asthma rate in the South Bronx one of the highest in the nation and diesel emissions proven to be a major contributor to the asthma crisis, Sustainable South Bronx is pleased that the Hunt's Point Produce Market has taken a proactive step to reduce illegal idling by diesel trucks in their facility. Attorney General Spitzer's innovative anti-idling initiative is particularly important in communities like Hunt's Point that have a disproportionate number of trucks and buses on its streets. We are looking forward to working with the Attorney General and the Market on this and other strategies to improve air quality in the South Bronx."

The Attorney General's settlement with Hunt's Point is the seventh anti-idling agreement reached since this environmental initiative was launched last year in response to numerous citizen complaints. The first six agreements were reached with Frito-Lay, Inc., Greyhound Lines, Inc., Community Coach, Inc., Gray Line New York Tours, Inc., Leisure Lines, Inc., and Suburban Trails, Inc. These six fleets, with a total of over 1,500 trucks and buses, agreed to eliminate excessive idling at and around their service facilities and implement new training protocols to ensure their drivers are aware of idling restrictions.

The investigation was handled by Assistant Attorney General Lemuel M. Srolovic and Environmental Scientist Rona Baruch in the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau, and by Investigator Sal Ventola of the Investigation's Bureau.