Landfill capping causes temporary odors

The latest landfill capping began a few months ago, causing increased odors as lining is placed. According to the Town of Brookhaven, work will be completed by the end of the week and odors will decrease.

According to Christopher Andrade, commissioner of the Department of Recycling and Sustainable Materials Management, a few people have been calling with odor complaints, but the town is at the point of buttoning up the landfill lining. Last summer, he said, odors were significantly reduced, and now, with about 73 percent of the landfill capped, he expects odors to be decreased even more so.

“We commenced the latest capping project phase in March, preparing the subsurface and placing the plastic liner over the mass in September,” he said. “What happens is when closing the area it creates a funnel and concentration of odor.”

Brookhaven Town chief of operations Matt Miner explained that work is done mid-winter to ease resident frustrations and that the school district and DEC have been kept in the loop. The next few days, he said, might cause beyond-control, early-hours odors as work is completed, but assured that once the lining is placed, odors will reduce. Also, within the last two months, he said the town has replaced, redesigned more efficient gas wellheads, which will further mitigate the smell.

Once the project is complete, the only areas that remain uncapped will be the active landfill located in the northeast region. However, most municipalities that have closed landfills in the past, Miner explained, typically don’t begin capping until the landfill officially closes, but the Town of Brookhaven has decided to be proactive.

Over the summer, the town launched this single largest capping project while also announcing the use of hydrogen peroxide to quell the smells. Prep work was done during the colder winter months, January through March, last year to reduce odor caused by stirring up debris.

The purpose of capping is to contain and provide a barrier to the disposed waste and prevent rainwater from infiltrating it and causing leaching. At this time, cells 1-5 are capped and closed, and by the end of week, cell 6 will be completely capped as well, resulting in an over 70 percent closure, keeping true to the town’s promise of more than 70 percent in 2018.

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