The Town of Brookhaven Ad-Hoc Committee for Solid Waste Disposal have sent their Brookhaven Ash Fill exploratory report to the Supervisor for review. The Long Island Advance got ahold of the document prior to the meeting.
The committee is made up of several community stakeholders including Gregory Miglino Jr., chief of the South Country Ambulance Company, Tom Williams, Brookhaven Village Association, Ray Fell, Bellport mayor, Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and five others.
According to the report the Town of Brookhaven does not manage solid waste in any of its eight villages but does manage the residential waste stream in the unincorporated portion of the Town and several villages manage a portion of their waste through agreements with the town.
Since the early 90s Long Island municipalities do not collect raw municipal solid waste and rather sends the waste to an energy facility for incineration and then the ash is brought back to the landfill, known as a process called “ash for trash.”
The Brookhaven landfill is expected to reach its capacity by December 2024 leaving the question as to where the town will dispose of their ash and construction and demo debris.
The committee was created and tasked with finding a solution to that issue in August of last year.
The town then began exploring the possibility of a new ashfill facility east of the landfill citing that it would be constructed in cells that would only accept ash residue and recycling materials.
“This would be a positive economic gain for Long Island. Instead of exporting Long Island dollars, the dollars stay in Long Island,” the report reads. “Long Island not only maintains efficient low-cost disposal but also benefits from new jobs, new lower cost of aggregates to be used in construction and creates a circular waste economy.”
However, the committee also found limitations and complications to the potential of a new ashfill site including homes and farms impacted by the proximity to a new facility.
“The proposed 5-acre [site] is a significant industrial processing facility and is being proposed to be placed adjacent to a residential area,” the report continues. “This raises serious concerns about the impact to local community including escaping ash/dust which is particulate matter, noise, leachate and water quality.”
The report also brought up odor and air quality concerns that have been an ongoing issue with complaints from the local community and members of the Frank P Long Intermediate School. If still pursued, the committed said, the town would need a state-of-the-art air monitoring system for the community and for Frank P. Long School.
Also, traffic was cited as a concern, especially along Horseblocks road and the current issue with garbage and dust being stirred up as cars and trucks enter and exit the current facility all contribute to poor air quality.
The report continued explaining that the waste issue is not just a local one.
“[The] DEC has not been as active as it needs to be to bring together the forces that could help alleviate the serious challenges the region has to dispose of waste. The Town should not be alone in this effort,” it reads. “It is not realistic nor feasible for one Town to be responsible for the disposal of all waste in this very populous region. It is also an unfair burden for Yaphank, South Haven, Horizon Village, Bellport and Brookhaven to bear the burden of waste disposal for the vast majority of the Long Island region.”
Currently, there are three proposed sites for waste transfer stations in Suffolk County including Winter Brothers in Yaphank, Gershow Recycling in Medford and Omni Recycling in Brentwood. The report suggested that all the stations should be considered in a “coordinated” regional plan.
The committee also said considering other ashfill locations would be challenging for Brookhaven and Long Island due to the lack of lands that would adversely impact wetlands. There is, however, the possibility of contracting out to private industry. If the process is contracted out, there would no longer be a need to construct a new ashfill facility, the report states, however, it would come with a significant cost estimated at $57,554,502 as opposed to current waste management costs: $44,319,395 and would come with increased truck traffic.
Another option would be to truck and rail ash out of Brookhaven. However, the committee found that transporting waste is extremely expensive and requires special equipment.
The final proposal was to move towards zero waste by restructuring for recycling, pay as you throw models, curbside composting, banning landfills, banning and reducing single-use plastics, mandatory minimums for recycling and partnerships with green companies. This option, comes with its challenges but would also encourage local green businesses and job creation.
Ultimately, the committee recommended against the creation of the landfill a burden on the community for the last 50 years. The decision was made by a majority vote.
"[...] It is recommended that the Brookhaven Landfill be closed on or about December 2024 and that an ashfill not be pursued by Brookhaven Town,” wrote committee chair Miglino. “Furthermore, the landfill proprty should be repurposed to work in concert with the local environment where possible. The closing of the facility should be achieved by outsourcing our MSW collection and disposal to private industry, while the Town of Brookhaven retains fiscal and regulatory management of the process.”
Some of the wording in this document might be different as this is not the final version of the report.