4,000 Hasidic School Pupils Protest Garbage Recycling Plant
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4,000 Hasidic School Pupils Protest Garbage Recycling Plant

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A spokesman for the Satmar Hasidic movement, who organized a protest demonstration at City Hall of some 4,000 boy and girl pupils mainly from Satmar schools against, city plans to establish on experimental garbage recycling plant near the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, said the movement would mount a much bigger demonstration if the Koch Administration tried to revive the project.

Rabbi Hertz Frankel, a spokesman for the Satmar Hasidim, the major Hasidic movement in the Williamsburg section, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that the movement would bring in up to 100,000 demonstrators to a protest demonstration if the recycling project was reconsidered by Mayor Edward Koch.

The Satmar children came in dozens of school buses, carrying identical signs protesting the possible pollution of the recycling plant would bring. The plant would be built in the currently unused Brooklyn Navy Yard, which Frankel described as “practically in our back yard.”

Hannah Gratt, a sixth grade pupil at the Beth Rachel School, said “they want to bum garbage in our neighborhood.” A classmate, Miny Stern, II, said “a lot of people live here and it’s very dangerous.”

Contracts for the proposed $225 million plant came up for approval as scheduled last Friday. Faced with opposition of the city’s Board of Estimate, Koch withdrew the plan. It was to be the first of eight incinerators to be built around the city, replacing the East New York landfill which is scheduled to be closed in 1985. The aim of the plant, which was expected to cost $226 million, was to convert 3,000 tons of garbage daily to steam which would be sold to Consolidated Edison. The utility firm, in turn, would sell the steam to commercial customers in lower Manhattan.

Frankel cited studies that the plant would produce cancer-causing dioxin, one of the most toxic agents known. He said if the plant was built, “it may mean the end of a very viable” community of 30,000 families. He said the opposition was not to the plant per se but the choice of the site for the first plant, making the heavily Hasidic community “a quinea pig,”

He said, “Let them test such a plant somewhere where there is not such a concentration of people as there is in Williamsburg so we can get an idea of what will actually happen to the environment.”

It was not clear what effect the demonstrations had had on the Mayor’s decision to withdraw the plan or whether he would try again to get it started in the Navy Yord. The Mayor insisted he would not give up on the project and would submit the contracts again at some future date which he did not specify.

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