Brookhaven seeks to settle Covanta whistleblower lawsuit for $1 million

Legislation over solid-waste transfer station stalls in Albany again


The Town of Brookhaven has agreed to accept $1 million from Covanta to settle a lawsuit by a former Covanta employee on behalf of the town over the alleged composition of the ash the company dumped at the Brookhaven landfill between 2007 and 2013.

“The papers have been filed on the case and they await the signature of the judge,” said Brookhaven Town supervisor Dan Panico, who confirmed the $1 million figure. “I have no reason to believe that it wouldn’t be approved.” The case is pending in the Supreme Court in Nassau County.

Covanta, which changed its name to Reworld, said in a statement that the company reached “a negotiated settlement” with the town.

“The parties have agreed to a settlement to end the expense and burden of this litigation that both parties have long agreed is without merit,” the company said.

“We value our partnership with the town, and we are proud of our work providing sustainable waste solutions for Long Island.  We look forward to continuing our efforts to support the town and its residents.”

The company has denied any wrongdoing.

David Koval, the whistleblower’s attorney, said his client “doesn’t think the town is acting in the best interests of its citizens” in agreeing to settle the case for $1 million. Koval said he will be filing court papers opposing the proposed settlement later this month. After that, the town will file its brief in response by July 12, he said.

Three people, including a co-founder of the Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group, spoke out against the proposed settlement at the June 6 Brookhaven Town Board meeting.

“It is despicable that this settlement would give Covanta a pass, while continuing to force community members to carry the burden,” BLARG co-founder Monique Fitzgerald said at the June 6 town board meeting.

BLARG has called for the immediate closure of the landfill, which is slated to stay open until late 2027 or early 2028.

Asked whether the town will earmark the settlement money for the benefit of the North Bellport community or for remediation at the landfill, Panico said, “We’re doing work far in excess of that $1 million figure. Our commitment to the people of North Bellport is long-standing and strong, and we’re going to dedicate far more money to than simply that $1 million to those efforts.”

In other news regarding the landfill, the state legislature ended its session earlier this month again without taking up a bill supported by the Town of Brookhaven that would allow the town to override a conservation easement to turn over parkland to Winters Bros. for the development of a solid-waste transfer station near the Town of Brookhaven landfill. It’s at least the second time the legislation has stalled in Albany. The current bill is sponsored by assemblyman Joe DeStefano and State Sen. Dean Murray.

Similar legislation introduced in 2021 by DeStefano and State Sen. Anthony Palumbo also never made it out of committee.

Winters Bros. wants to develop a waste-transfer station to haul waste off Long Island by rail. Supervisors from the towns of Brookhaven, Islip and Smithtown rallied at Brookhaven Town Hall on Friday in support of the plan.

Will Flower, a Winters Bros. spokesman, said in a statement that “this is the right time, the right place, and the right reasons to move forward.”

“Winters Bros. is taking proactive steps to fight against climate change, work to reduce traffic congestion on the Long Island Expressway, and address Long Island’s solid-waste issues,” Flower said.  “The use of rail shipments of goods onto and off of Long Island will result in a healthier Long Island—both environmentally and economically.  We are pleased to see so much support for this important project.”

But opponents say it will result in twice as many trucks rumbling through North Bellport and pose a health hazard for residents of an area that already has high rates of childhood asthma.

“It’s time for Winters to accept that the community will never stop fighting this massive project and, with the ongoing opposition from the NAACP, Winters will continue to strike out in Albany,” Brookhaven NAACP Chapter president Dr. Georgette Grier-Key said in a press release. The project is also opposed by BLARG and Citizens Campaign for the Environment. 


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here