The east side of the 50-acre Brookhaven Town property, located at 350 Horseblock Road in Yaphank, is the original landfill cell 1-4, which was capped and closed in the 1980s after collecting years of municipal waste. Today, it is totally vegetated with grass and purple thistle, and populated by multiple native animals including deer, fox and groundhogs. There are also wild turkeys on the site as well as a few visiting bald eagles.
The entire landfill is enclosed by a tree buffer by 50 feet in some areas and as much as 300 feet in others. The outside world is hard to detect until atop the over 270-foot mound.
Near the original fill is an old and decommissioned flare stack neighboring a new, highly efficient stack recently built for about $2 million. The stack is 130 feet high and filters gas emissions through a series of filters to help regulate gases from the bottom of the landfill before becoming odorous.
Also within the landfill are a series of black collection pipes helping regulate the water leachate with valves and a loop system. According to commissioner Chris Andrade, their motto is to “Fix before failure.”
On the most recently capped area of the landfill, the area is capped by new technology that is completely impermeable and produces virtually no leachate, which equates to no odors. On the west side of the landfill, there are two pumps for the leachate collection, which are odor-controlled by hydrogen peroxide and eventually pumped by trucks and hauled out to the Bergin Point Sewage Treatment Plant.
Traveling around the landfill, there is the active fill open to ash and commercial and demolition area. The C&D and ash are covered by material and will eventually be capped. The town collects, Andrade said, about 750 to 1,000 pounds of C&D and ash per day. Water trucks, to help monitor the dust, also continuously spray the site down.
Past there, farther towards the recycling center, there is also an area where natural yard waste is collected, including wood, which is repurposed into mulch and topsoil. The site also currently helps facilitate recycling materials such as paint, batteries, light bulbs, oil, appliances and other highly pollutant materials at no cost to the taxpayer. Andrade explained that those services are funded by the landfill.
Post-landfill, the transfer station, which neighbors Horseblock Road, might still be operational to collect the municipal waste and transfer it “elsewhere,” though, Andrade said, policymakers have yet to come to a decision.
The landfill currently has about 65 employees, who will likely shift gears to maintenance once the site closes sometime on or about 2024. Most landfills require about 30 years or more of monitoring as per the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who also has a full-time town paid employee monitoring the site daily.
The landfill is about 75 percent capped with phases 11, 12 and 13 remaining, and though the site will never truly be able to return back to nature, Andrade said, the town has an obligation and responsibility to maintain the facility. The site has about 30 acres of unfilled area.
The site, with Brookhaven supervisor Ed Romaine’s vision, will ultimately become an energy park. Fuel cells are already being placed and built and will produce about 5 megawatts of renewable energy by this fall. The hope is to also attract PSEG to build a substation and host solar panels.