The 50-acre landfill is Brookhaven Town property, located at 350 Horseblock Road in Yaphank, was expected to close by 2024, but due to space and New York State engineers, will not close until completely filled.
According to deputy supervisor Dan Panico, the site is expected to close to C&D, commercial and demolition debris, by 2024. It is not anticipated to close to household incinerated ash until 2028.
“We have to fill it; we were permitted by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to fill it,” he said, noting that there has to be a certain slope adhered to when capping it. “It will likely be a couple months into 2028; that’s when it will reach final capacity.”
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, they issue permits to construct and operate landfills with an approved final grading plan. This plan includes the final contours and maximum permitted elevations of the waste mass. The length of time it takes to fill to the maximum permitted elevation depends on the rate at which waste is accepted for disposal at the facility.
The Brookhaven Landfill’s current operating permit was issued on June 12, 2021 and expires on June 11, 2026. According to the NYS DEC, operation beyond the expiration date will require a permit renewal by the town to the DEC for the landfill.
The town is authorized to continue the construction and operation of the eastern landfill area (Cell 6) over 13 phases of development. The landfill is currently filling Phase 12.
“If the landfill has not reached its permitted maximum elevation (permitted capacity) as the permit expiration date approaches, it will be up to the town to decide whether to apply to renew the permit for another term,” a NYSDEC spokesperson said.
Permit renewal applications for solid waste management facilities are required to be submitted to DEC at least 180 days prior to the permit expiration date. If a permit renewal is submitted on behalf of the town for the facility, DEC would closely review the application prior to making a decision.
However, according to the NYS DEC, the town is required to operate and close the landfill as described in the approved application package, including following the approved grading plan and permitted elevations. If the town were to chose to stop receiving waste and close a landfill prior to reaching final elevations included in the permit, a revised closure plan including amended grading plans to address final cover construction and proper drainage would be required.
According to Christine Fetten, Brookhaven Town Commissioner, Department of Recycling and Sustainable Materials Management the town does plan on applying for a permit renewal but will not seek to expand beyond the approved capacity, for the final grading of Cell Six.
"Doing this will provide a safe, effective means of managing the waste of our residents," she said. "Because the permit is based on capacity, and not on a specific date, the remaining amount of time this facility will be used is dependent upon air space and final grading of the site."
During this time and after closure, Panico said, residents of Brookhaven Town will continue to put their garbage out twice a week and recycling once a week to the curb. The company, Covanta, is still contracted to collect the garbage, which will continue to be incinerated, regardless of placement. Panico also said the town is continuing to promote recycling efforts and seeking markets for those commodities.
The landfill currently has about 65 employees, who will likely shift gears to maintenance once the site closes on or about 2028. Most landfills require about 30 years or more of monitoring, as per the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which also has a full-time town paid employee monitoring the site daily.
The landfill is about 70 percent capped. The site, with Brookhaven supervisor Ed Romaine’s vision, will ultimately become an energy park.