WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Members of the Central Harlem Community Respond to the Proposed Addition of a Truck Depot on West 145th Street

October 11, 2022
Contact: Chris Dobens, chris@weact.org, 718-679-8542


HARLEM, NY – In response to the proposed heavy-duty truck rental depot on West 145th Street between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard first reported by Nick Garber in Patch, Lonnie Portis, WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s Environmental Policy and Advocacy Coordinator issued the following statement:

“Low-income communities and communities of color have historically been burdened by a disproportionate number of pollution-generating facilities such as factories, power plants, bus depots, sewage treatment plants, garbage dumps and transfer stations, highways, and trucking centers. This inequitable siting has turned these communities into environmental sacrifice zones, with the cumulative impacts of these multiple sources of pollution exponentially harming their residents, causing health impacts such as asthma, lung and heart disease, increased birth defects, and learning impairments.

Central Harlem certainly falls into this category. In fact, according to the New York City Department of City Planning’s Statements of Community District 10 Needs and Community Board 10 Budget Requests for Fiscal Year 2023, the neighborhood has historically had one of the highest rates of asthma in our nation. And ‘poor air quality also leads to higher rates of cancer and other chronic illnesses which disproportionately affect low income and predominantly Black and Latino communities such as CB10.’ Data from the New York City Department of Health shows that this neighborhood has more than fifteen times the rate of Emergency Department Visits for adults compared to nearby neighborhoods like the Upper East Side. Those rates are up to 36 times higher for children ages 5-17.

Adding a heavy-duty truck depot – which would be located half-a-block from one of the few green spaces in the area, the Brigadier General Charles Young Playground – will significantly add to the heightened levels of air pollution this community is already burdened with. Emissions from these diesel trucks include nitrogen oxides and fine particulates, which lead to higher rates of respiratory illness, heart disease, and premature deaths. In fact, a recent study published in the Lancet provides new evidence on how vehicular air pollution causes lung cancer.

Communities of color and low-income, like Central Harlem, are already burdened with more than their fair share of pollution. Siting yet another source of dangerous air pollution in this community is either a scare tactic designed to restart negotiations or an overt act of environmental racism. Either way, Central Harlem does not deserve this.”

In addition to Lonnie Portis’ statement, Jaqueline Gardner, a WE ACT member and resident of Fred Samuels Houses, located on the corner of 144th Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard, made the following statement:

“This is a Black community. We are not rich folks. Our children and seniors are very much in harm’s way. We already experience lots of illness so to inhale these fumes is adding fuel to the fire that is already burning. God help us.”

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WE ACT for Environmental Justice is a Northern Manhattan membership-based organization whose mission is to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate meaningfully in the creation of sound and fair environmental health and protection policies and practices. WE ACT has offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Visit us at weact.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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