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New York closes vast garbage dump ahead of time

New York closes vast garbage dump ahead of time
NEW YORK - New York is closing the 2,000-acre (810 hectare) Staten Island Fresh Kills garbage dump months ahead of schedule, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced last week. Created 53 years ago as a temporary solution to the citys trash problems, the landfill grew to more than twice the size of Central Park, evoking fears of possible cancer-causing agents. In May 1996, Giuliani and New York Gov. George Pataki promised to close the massive dump by Dec. 31, 2001. The two Republicans linked up to follow through, gleefully announcing the landfill, with its four garbage mounds towering some 90 feet (27 metres) to 225 feet (69 metres) above sea level, was being closed on Thursday, nine months ahead of schedule. "I have already determined that I am going to retire here and play golf on the Fresh Kills landfill," Giuliani joked. But where all the trash will go has concerned neighboring states, including New Jersey where former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, now the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, told the city to "drop dead" when Giuliani announced a plan to ship trash to the Garden State. The mayor, however, feels the profits states stand to make by incinerating the citys trash will override such concerns. The sanitation department budget was estimated to grow to $1.1 billion by 2005, a 17 percent increase from this year, reflecting the additional cost of collecting and exporting the trash that would have been buried at Fresh Kills. Pataki said the dump was "not just an environmental insult to the people of Staten Island, it was wrong policy for the state of New York, and it had dire potential health consequences for the people of Staten Island." Likely to end up as parkland but not safe for use for some 20 years, the Fresh Kills landfill was the last unlined municipal dump in the state. Lining prevents so-called leachate from developing and draining off into surrounding ground water, and environmentalists claim the dump leached toxic waste that caused cancer. Story by Joan Gralla REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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