Brookhaven Town will possibly be exploring the creation of an ashfill as an answer to the big garbage question: what to do with it.
“The town is taking a serious look at how we’re going to handle garbage after 2024,” said supervisor Ed Romaine in a phone interview with the Advance.
The 2024 deadline is when the current landfill in Brookhaven is expected to close. According to the town’s chief of operations Matt Miner, the landfill is about 75 to 78 percent capped, which is the process that covers and eventually closes the landfill to activity. Romaine said the ashfill would not make up for the lost revenue after closing the landfill, which would only produce about a third of what the town currently earns.
An ashfill is somewhat self-explanatory—it’s a location at which ash is collected. The ash is obtained through the waste-to-energy process. According to Miner, the town sends residential garbage collection to an outside facility, which converts the trash to energy. Ash is the byproduct of that process.
Currently, the ash comes back to the town landfill, where it is stored along with construction debris, the only two things that are placed at the landfill. The town also takes ash from other municipalities that participate in this process. The ashfill would allow the town to continue their contracts to collect ash from other municipalities.
Miner added that the town of Babylon has an active ashfill that has been in use for over 30 years. Brookhaven Town accepts over 750,000 tons of debris each year. The debris is one of the major causes of odor, which has prompted complaints from citizens.
The ashfill would not be connected to or placed on top of the landfill. Miner said the town is eyeing a 50 to 60-acre space at the Materials Recovery Facility in Yaphank, and that it would not need to be as large due to the lack of construction debris.
Miner and Romaine stressed that the ashfill is still in the exploratory stage, and has not yet even been approved for an official inquiry by the town board. When and if the town board approves the plan to pursue the ashfill, there will need to be a full environmental impact report drafted, as well as public hearings and other steps. Romaine added it would take about three years to obtain a Department of Environmental Conservation permit for the project.
“We can’t even make a decision until we do that,” Romaine said.
The process would also need to take into account viable alternatives. Romaine said the town has not yet found any other viable alternatives other than shipping the garbage off the island, which would take away revenue from the town and heavily increase costs, or stop collecting garbage altogether.