FreshDirect Polluting South Bronx Neighborhood, Building On An Indian Burial Ground

October 8, 2014 | Rhett Jones

In what an activist has deemed “environmental racism,” FreshDirect is putting a distribution warehouse in South Bronx, further polluting an already burdened neighborhood. For two years, South Bronx Unite has been fighting the construction of the giant grocery delivery service and its army of trucks, but the project is still planned to move forward. The organization has been asked to speak at the UN Climate Summit about it, which is just one example of issues that effect poor communities around the world.

Mychal Johnson, a co-founder of South Bronx Unite, tells Vice that the distribution center “would bring an estimated 1,000 daily truck trips through a neighborhood that already sees some of the worst traffic in the city, also thanks to a FedEx hub, a printing and distribution center, and four waste transfer stations.”

The air pollution from those trucks will only exacerbate problems in a neighborhood that has some of the highest asthma rates in the city — 21 times higher than the figures in high income areas. One in five children in the area suffer from asthma.

Adding insult to injury, the FreshDirect compound is being built on a state-recognized Indian burial ground.

FreshDirect contends that they will be bringing 1,000 permanent jobs and 644 construction jobs, but there’s no guarantee those positions will be filled with locals and they’re mostly non-unionized, minimum wage positions. For their efforts of bringing pollution and bare-minimum support for workers, FreshDirect has been rewarded with at least $127 million in public subsidies.

Mayor Bill de Blasio publicly called the handout a “mistake” before he was in office. Today, his spokesman will only say “that the subsidies were executed ‘in the previous administration.”

The “previous administration” refers to former mayor Michael Bloomberg — the same Bloomberg who is spearheading the Compact Of Mayors at the UN Climate Summit as a united effort to combat climate change. Yes, Bloomberg is choking a neighborhood that is 96% Black and Hispanic to death while speaking at the same summit as South Bronx Unite. Maybe he missed their presentation because he was too busy being knighted. I hate everything. (Photo: South Bronx Unite)