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NYS Governor's Awards for Pollution Prevention - Neighbors Against Garbage (NAG)

Neighbors Against Garbage (NAG), Brooklyn, NY


Neighbors Against Garbage (NAG) is a not-for-profit environmental justice and community planning organization based in the north side section of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Founded in 1994, NAG was developed out of the neighborhood's desire to reduce local environmental hazards and to preserve the waterfront for community benefits.

Methodologies and Procedures

The Williamsburg community was troubled when the waterfront site was chosen by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) for installation of a 47-megawatt electric generating gas turbine. They were concerned with the increase of 100 tons per year of chemical and particulate matter emissions from this turbine. The south side of Williamsburg is home to a large Hispanic population, which experiences a high incidence of asthma. The NYPA turbine is one block from Public School 84.

At first, NYPA wanted to meet its environmental offset requirements as the result of the siting of its turbine, by providing cleaner-fuel school buses. However, the community felt this would not benefit the most directly impacted neighborhood because the buses operate on a city-wide basis. NAG urged that Tri-Boro Shelving be chosen as the primary offset as part of a "Good Neighbor Agreement." Tri-Boro Shelving is a steel shelving manufacturer located immediately across the street from Public School 84 and is central to a densely populated, residential, environmental justice area.

In the late 1990s, Tri-Boro Shelving substituted a low-level volatile organic compound (VOC) paint in its spray-painting process in response to community complaints and DEC enforcement, but the problems and complaints persisted. Even with the new process, there were still VOC emissions; toluene from cleaning the spray paint equipment and other fumes from gas baking ovens. As an alternative, the powder spray system idea was suggested to Tri-Boro Shelving as a result of NAG's Pollution Prevention Coordinator attending a DEC Pollution Prevention seminar held in 1996 in which powder coating systems were featured.

With this new agreement, and with funding negotiated from NYPA and the New York State Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Tri-Boro Shelving installed an electrostatic powder spray system which resulted in zero emissions in a neighborhood with a high incidence of asthma. Tri-Boro Shelving estimates that they will save $50,000 on paint products per year and will be able to handle a larger volume of business. Tri-Boro Shelving will also save money on its utility bills as a result of NYSERDA's involvement in creating a system with high energy efficiency. NYPA provided the funding and engineering to accomplish the changeover to the powder system.


  • The Williamsburg community benefitted from the elimination of over 150 tons per year of hazardous air pollutants in an area that exhibits high incidence of asthma while maintaining local employment levels.
  • Capital improvements to the waterfront as part of the negotiated environmental offsets with NYPA included the installation of zero emission fuel cells at neighboring sewage treatment plants, and aesthetic improvements at the waterfront park.
  • Tri-Boro Shelving will save $50,000 on paint products per year and will be able to handle a larger volume of business.

Any comments or questions?
Contact us at: 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-1750;
518-402-9469 (phone); 518-402-9168 (fax)

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