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Thompson Blasts Quinn Over Use Of Term 'Environmental Racism'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Trash talk in the race to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg has led to a demand for an apology, with one Democrat saying he's insulted by words from another Democrat.

"I found it personally offensive," Bill Thompson said in reference to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who criticized the former city comptroller's stand against the controversial 91st Street Marine Transfer Station by saying "The days of environmental racism have to come to an end."

"As a black man, to be accused of racism by Speaker Quinn is insulting. It is words used in anger. It has no place being here," Thompson said.

The underlying issue is a little complex, CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported. Quinn supports Mayor Bloomberg's plan to rebuild a trash transfer station on the wealthy Upper East Side. Garbage trucks would be transferred to barges and shipped to New Jersey. Quinn said taking trucks off the roads will help nearby low-income neighborhoods.

But Thompson said many public housing residents live near the 91st Street site and oppose it. Garbage trucks going to the plant would roll right by a nearby ball field and playground.

"Bill Thompson wants to turn this into a stumble for Christine Quinn," said Baruch College pundit David Birdsell.

Birdsell said "environmental racism" is a fairly common term, but in a heated election, "It becomes a particularly loaded term when you have an African-American candidate opposed to a white candidate, Democratic primary, even if you're talking about 'environmental rac-ism,' rather than calling someone a 'rac-ist.'"

And the Quinn campaign said she didn't call anyone a "racist," adding "while some politicians are pandering on this ... Quinn will not back down from requiring all communities, no matter how affluent ... from doing their fair share."

She's refusing Thompson's demand for an apology.

Opponents of the trash station have lost several rounds in court, so they're hoping the next mayor kills the plan, Aiello reported.

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