A gas gauge in a meadow in FreshKills park. Photo: Nick Kimbrell
Can a landfill site ever return to nature?
6th July, 2010
One of the biggest landfill sites in the US is in the process of becoming a nature reserve and a recreation ground. Is this just papering over the cracks, or can our rubbish heaps really turn into something beautiful?
At its peak in the mid-1980s, the Fresh Kills landfill site received 29,000 tons of rubbish every day. Now much of the site, tucked on the western shore of New York City’s Staten Island, could be mistaken for a coastal nature preserve. Wildflowers grow on the sides of grass-covered mounds, which not long ago were mountains of rotting garbage, and there have been sightings of white-tailed deer and red-tailed hawks. For over a year, bi-monthly bird-watching tours have been popular with local enthusiasts.
The ongoing transformation of what was once the world’s largest landfill into what many hope will become New York’s most versatile park is emblematic of worldwide efforts to transform landfills and other contaminated sites into parks and public open space. But the ambitious Fresh Kills project, underway now for almost a decade, has also raised new questions about the potential profitability of these sites and the extent to which they can actually be restored.
At 2,200 acres, Fresh Kills – the completed park is to be restyled 'Freshkills' – will be New York...
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