Seeking solutions to Long Island’s solid-waste crisis


On Friday, June 14, Brookhaven Town supervisor Dan Panico, Brookhaven Highway superintendent Dan Losquadro, Brookhaven Town councilwoman Jane Bonner, Brookhaven Town councilman Neil Manzella, Islip Town supervisor Angie Carpenter, State Sen. Mario Mattera, president of the Nassau Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council Matthew Aracich, CEO of Long Island Builders Institute Mike Florio, chairman of SMART Anthony Simon, director of Hauppauge Industrial Association Long Island Chris Valsamos, deputy executive director and chief financial officer for the Long Island Contractors’ Association Sheryl Buro, and others joined together to rally for sensible and environmentally sound solutions to the impending Long Island solid waste crisis.

The rally, positioned as a follow-up event to Panico and Suffolk County executive Ed Romaine’s first-of-its-kind May 8 Regional Solid Waste Summit, which gathered leaders across 13 local governments and waste industry experts, is another step in raising public awareness and calling for New York State’s support in solving Long Island’s solid waste crisis.

In a separate letter to Gov. Hochul, Panico, the other nine supervisors, and Romaine endorsed rail as the “one clear solution for shipping waste off Long Island.” The letter explains that embracing rail “will not only help solve the looming waste crisis, but will also create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in the process.”

The impending closure of the Brookhaven Town Landfill, which was opened by New York State (NYS) in 1974 and currently only accepts construction and demolition debris (C&D) and ash, will expose a market devoid of options – leading to escalating illegal dumping, increased construction and renovation costs, and devolving traffic conditions in the form of tens of thousands of additional commercial truck trips as a result of the need to drive C&D off-island. Panico and other speakers at today’s rally spoke in consensus that without a sensible solution, likely in the form of improving and expanding railway infrastructure, Long Islanders face a precipitous drop in quality of life, all while paying the highest taxes in the nation.

If the region is to meet the NYS Action Plan’s 2030 waste and emissions goals, codified by law, then Long Island requires proactivity on the part of Gov. Hochul, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and the NYS Legislature.

Long Island moves approximately 99 percent of all goods by tractor trailers. One 25-car freight train can replace the work of 125 18-wheel tractor trailers, prospectively lowering emissions and alleviating traffic. Nationally, 20 percent of all waste is transported by rail, whereas on Long Island that number drops down to 1 percent. Long Island’s 2.7 million residents produce approximately one million tons of C&D, ash, and automotive waste yearly.

Panico, when speaking on the issue, said, “Together the leaders of Long Island are stepping up, partnering with industry and labor to recognize the benefits of added rail service and capacity. Across all of Suffolk County, the consensus is clear: a paradigm shift relating to how we view the transportation of everything from waste, goods, and materials is more than overdue. Our residents, the local economy, and our environment require action and solutions, and this is what we came here to present today. Across party and creed, we are in agreement as Long Islanders, and now the onus is on Gov. Hochul and the New York State Legislature to either bestow this opportunity or simply allow our region to list into a bleak future, clouded by pollution thicker than the untold story of why we even needed to gather here today.”

Brookhaven Town Highway superintendent Dan Losquadro said, “The time for state action on a regional rail terminal for Long Island is now. With municipal solid waste, debris management, and construction material supply-chain problems all at crisis levels, this project is no longer just an option; it is an imperative. Long Island has become one of the nation’s worst traffic bottlenecks, especially for heavy commercial vehicles. The expansion and improvement of this facility checks off the often-stated goals of environmental protection, air quality improvement, traffic reduction, and economic development. For the quality of life and financial well-being of all Long Islanders, the state must act immediately.”

Also in attendance were representatives of Suffolk County, the Babylon, Smithtown, Islip, and Riverhead Townships, and members of various trade organizations (NSBT, LICA, LIMBA, SMART, HIA, Operating Engineers, Plumbers, etc.) including laborers from Local 66, United Carpenters, Local 46, Local 113, Local 638, Local 200, Teamsters Local 282, and Local 290. 


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