Monitoring landfill a good idea

Long Island Advance (Editorial)
August 13, 2009

Brookhaven Town’s decision to enact a number of reforms for dealing with safety at the landfill is a positive step and a clear indication that town officials take the safety of residents seriously. The town recently approved using new technology to better monitor possible leaks. The electronic leak detection system is the first being used on Long Island. The town also approved a groundwater model for the landfill to monitor areas down gradient of the landfill for potential leaks. That will enable the town to better monitor current plumes like the one polluting Beaver Dam Creek, and if another leak does occur, to allow the town to recognize the leak quickly.

The new technology allows the town to “see” if there are any tears in the liners of the cells. A tear or puncture in a cell can result in pollutants leaking into the groundwater, which can then spread into communities, rivers and drinking water. Brookhaven Town Majority Leader Timothy P. Mazzei, the liaison to Waste Management, said the new technology already caught a six-inch tear in one cell. That tear was repaired and the cost of the new technology was billed to the company that installed the cell liner.

After the Beaver Dam Creek plume was first reported, and then subsequently reported to not be as toxic as originally thought, we feared the town might back off on its obligation to monitor the landfill and existing plumes, and actively engage the public in remediation efforts. We are pleased that the town is treating the landfill, as it should and working to ensure the safety of town residents. As we have said in the past, the town has no margin for error when it comes to safety at the landfill.

If one error exists, pollution can occur that can affect thousands of residents. The town has the moral responsibility in addition to the governmental responsibility to make sure the landfill is not polluting the environment and endangering residents. We applaud the town for making the landfill safer, and encourage town officials to continue to seek newer and more effective ways to monitor the landfill and contain contaminants.  You can never be too safe when it comes to the landfill, the environment and the health of town residents.