SHEEPSHEAD BITES EXCLUSIVE: When a local fruit and vegetable market on East 16th Street near Avenue Z closed up shop last year, neighbors were relieved, saying the location often left smelly, rotting garbage at the curb. But they never imagined that the area would become the site of an even worse problem: spilling of rotting produce and other waste, left to stew in the sun for days.
According to local businesses in the area, Metropolitan Recycling, a private waste carter that hauls off garbage from area businesses and construction sites, has for several weeks been illegally spilling and not cleaning up a putrid stew of fetid waste, disgusting liquids and rancid filth on both blocks. And they provided video to prove it.
Bay Supply Corp., a plumbing and heating specialist located at 2460 East 17th Street, said they first noticed the problem approximately a month ago, when they came in to work and found foul-smelling trash directly in front of their building. When it happened again a few days later, they checked surveillance video, and were dumbfounded to see Metropolitan Recycling’s trucks leaving behind a heap of foul-smelling trash in front of their storefront after picking up some nearby construction debris.
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The problem started happening almost every other day, according to employees of Bay Supply, and has also struck East 16th Street several times.
“It stinks the whole block up,” said Maret Komshtyk, a manager at Bay Supply. “The whole block is complaining. They’re going crazy.”
Komshtyk said he called Metropolitan Waste directly, and the person he spoke to was apologetic and said the truck suffered from a broken seal – a required part on the truck that prevents garbage from sloshing out as it moves through the streets or compacts garbage. Metropolitan told him it would be fixed immediately, but the trucks have come back several times since, and left more of the same.
Metropolitan Recycling has not yet responded to requests for comment for this story.
“I can’t even imagine how many germs there are in that sludge,” said Roman Dovgopol, the owner of Print Only With Us, a neighboring business at 2456 East 17th Street. “People are walking through it, bringing it into their cars, into their homes, and into my business. This is disgusting.”
Dovgopol added that, at least once, spillage from the trucks doused cars parked next to Stop & Shop as it roared by.
The sludge, which is comprised largely of rotting produce, has attracted bugs and animals to the spot. It coats the tires of cars who park in it, and, at the entrance to the parking deck for the newly-constructed Marshalls, the filth has turned the recently poured concrete black as cars drive up the ramp. When visiting the location, Sheepshead Bites observed that the wind carried the smell for more than two blocks, exacerbated by the summer’s heat and humidity.
“Customers come in all the time and ask about the smell,” said Dovgopol. “They think we’ve got problems with someone” who is trying to make Print Only With Us look bad.
Both Komshtyk and Dovgopol said they’ve called 311 several times to complain, but it doesn’t appear Metropolitan Recycling has been caught in the act. Dovgopol said that one of their complaints was forwarded to the Sanitation Department, who dispatched local workers to clean up the mess. But that hasn’t addressed the larger problem.
“Issue number one isn’t to get it cleaned,” Dovgopol said, though he noted he was happy they did so. “The biggest issue is to make sure it never happens again.”
The city’s Business Integrity Commission, which licenses and monitors private carters, confirmed that they’ve received a complaint about the location and are investigating. Spillage violations carry a maximum fine of $10,000 per incident, and the commission has the authority to issue violations based on video, and are reviewing the evidence sent to them by Komshtyk and Dovgopol.
Clarification (12/3/2013): The original version of this article referred to the company’s violation colloquially as illegal dumping. To eliminate confusion with the legal term of dumping, we’ve altered the article to refer to the action as spillage. The violation is for the spilling of putrescible waste on public streets and failing to clean it up.