FRESHKILLS PARK PROJECT
I started this project in 2011 photographing in the outskirts of the William T. Davis Wildlife refuge and around the Freshkills Landfill. It was not fully open to the public yet and all the mounds of trash was not fully remediated then. What was then Freshkills Landfill, one of the largest Landfills in the World, is now a beautiful 2,200 acres of park land. All of New York City’s residential trash was brought here. The Landfill was in operations from 1948 to 2001 when it closed and began it’s clean up. This is one of the most successful and innovative Landfill to Park remediation projects in such a grand scale.
It wasn’t until 2018 when I started volunteering for the Freshkills Park Alliance and NYC parks and Recreations, as a photographer and attended their public tours of the park. It was astonishing the current sustainable design, to what I’ve seen in the landfill’s history and timeline.It is with this park’s design and remediation that can make the difference in sustainability. I attended as many tours as I could so I could document the many areas available to us to observe. The vast landscape, a green meadow that hardly felt like you were in Long Island and 3 times as big as Central Park. It was beautiful. It is hard to imagine that 29,000 tons of garbage was brought here every day, and now it was below our feet. There is the North, South, West, and East mound, that are all covered and remediated. On each mound, you can see many gas wellheads stationed to extract and monitor CO2 coming from the trash below. Since 2012-2018, CO2 has been extracted from the ground, into a nearby plant on site. It is captured at the plant and transferred to the nearest National Grid and supplied to nearby homes with gas and heating.
Throughout the park there are also many water wells which monitor and measure the water’s contamination level. It is mainly to monitor the freshwater below and the Leachate that develop at the bottom of the capped landfill. Leachate is the result of water and residue contamination of the landfill. This is when contamination can happen in fresh water and can leak into the wetlands.
Freshkills park stands as the example of many landfills to remediate, this is one of the solutions that’s a positive step to a brighter and more sustainable future. We can look and observe this park, research and change, the aspects that can be refined. It is the path to a hopeful and sustainable future.