Massive tree and limb burn after Sandy

November 28, 2012 3:17:42 PM PST
Crews in and around New York City began burning a massive amount of trees and limbs left by Hurricane Sandy.

The debris is being incinerated at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, but some critics are raising concerns about health and the environment.

It's a six-day pilot program in the vastness of Floyd Bennett Field.

A portable shipping container called an "air curtain burner" is designed to protect the air from too much smoke.

The dilemma is how to get rid of all these trees and branches knocked down during Superstorm Sandy, enough to fill several football fields.

So far, companies aren't lining up to cart it away.

"Two have come forward and are starting to ship waste out but they can't handle all the material," said Commissioner Carter Strickland, NYC DEP.

The city's Department of Environmental Protection feels this burn is the safest alternative, but environmental groups and the American Lung Association aren't so sure.

"It would be like taking a piece of sandpaper and rubbing it on the tissue of your lungs. That's going to lead to coughing, wheezing, and asthma attacks," said Michael Seilback, of the American Lung Association.

The city has put up at least 11 of these air monitors in the surrounding area and so far, they insist the results indicate no problems.

"We've got a lot of people standing by, monitoring it closely to make sure that, if there's a problem, we can shut it down right away," Strickland said.

"So why are we amending air quality rules? DEP literally has had to say, we're going to lift the air quality rules that we normally go by so we can burn this debris," Seilback said.

Now also keep in mind, Floyd Bennett Field isn't far away from the Rockaways and Breezy Point, two places that have already been hit hard by Sandy, and residents there are already concerned about mold and air quality.

"Floyd Bennett Field is across from my house, so yes, do I worry about that? But it's always going to be an issue to someone," said Lynette Preziotti, a Rockaway Park resident.

An even bigger issue, besides all this debris is the wood, which poses a risk of fire, as well.

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