A local recycling company that has shattered quality of life for a number of 6th Ward residents living near Knickerbocker and Genessee Avenues was recently issued an air pollution violation by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
The department issued the violation in May 2014 citing the company’s wont of leaving diesel powered garbage trucks running for more than three-minutes. State law — the Air Pollution Control Act — requires diesel powered vehicles to idle for no more than three-minutes, according to the department.
A company vehicle was left idling for 10-minutes on West Railway Avenue on May 13th, 2014, according to the violation. An inspector from the department cited the company and a fine of $500 was levied against it.
Anthony Gaeta, the company’s owner, did not respond to messages seeking his response for this story.
Marc Grinkin, a resident of the area, who has been battling the company for the past years, said the company continues to keep its trucks running for more than three-minutes despite the state’s penalties.
“They’re still doing it,” said Grinkin. The resident said when truck drivers see him driving around, the engines become silent, but as soon as he leaves, the trucks are idling for a prolonged period of time releasing pernicious carcinogens into the air.
In 2013, the company was fined $500: cited for the same violation. “This company was investigated on June 10, 2013 by the [Passaic County] Health Department and a vehicle was found idling for 14 minutes,” said Larry Ragonese, spokesperson for the state’s department, in early May. “A violation was issued and the company paid the penalty on 7/1/2013.”
County and state records differ on the exact fine amount for Gaeta’s 2013 violation. A $250 fine was slapped on the company, according to county records.
6th Ward councilman, Andre Sayegh, a quality of life champion in his ward, said he is working on an ordinance that will reduce truck traffic on Genessee Avenue. Sayegh said the city’s law department is working on the ordinance which will be before the city council next month.
During the recent mayoral election the company’s bad behavior came to light in an article in this paper, in which residents complained about Sayegh’s inaction on the issue, for the company had contributed more than $4,000 to the councilman’s election campaign.
Despite a petition that was sent out to high ranking city officials including the mayor and the city council, local authorities have done nothing to address residents’ concerns. Neither, the city’s health department nor the police department – both of which have authority to cite and issue fines – have done much in addressing idling, excessive noise, or any of the other issues mentioned in Grinkin’s petition signed by almost two dozen area residents.
“We held a meeting late last year with the DPW [public works] committee, Mr. Geta, and we talked about some of the concerns,” said Sayegh. One of the solutions to come out of the meeting was the ordinance, said Sayegh.
Because the company has been contributing thousands of dollars to Sayegh’s campaign, residents look upon any move by the councilman with suspicion and skepticism. “He’s probably giving him whatever he wants,” said Grinkin. He will likely turn Genessee Avenue, a one-way, into a reverse one-way – changing traffic flow from Getty Avenue to allow incoming traffic from West Railway Avenue — to reduce traffic, said Grinkin.
Residents of the area suggested Sayegh is shielding the company from local authorities. When asked whether he is protecting the company, Sayegh said, “It is entirely false.”
Sayegh said if he has to he will call the company’s owner and tell him to resolve the idling problem. “I’ll call him and say ‘Hey, reprimand your drivers, they’re idling,’” said Sayegh.
Gaeta settled his 2013 fine for $200 after receiving a 20-percent discount for installing no idling signs all around his premises; Gaeta settled his 2014 fine for $250 after negotiating with the state’s department.