Civic meeting about landfill and

Compost facility draws crowd

June 21, 2012 - THE LONG ISLAND ADVANCE

By CHUCK ANDERSON and LINDA LEUZZI 

On Monday night, 122 residents from Brookhaven hamlet, Patchogue, Medford and Yaphank filed into the Brookhaven Fire Department meeting room to protest the expansion height of the Brookhaven landfill, as well as issues emanating from Long Island Compost. 

According to Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito, who is heading the Brookhaven Community Coalition and chaired the meeting, 2,700 tons of ash are dumped in the landfill each day. Town spokesperson Jack Krieger said that Brookhaven accepts approximately 342,000 tons of ash per year from various resource recovery facilities on Long Island. “We are open about 308 days a year,” he said. “Therefore, the average daily ash received is approximately 1,121 tons, so Adrienne’s statement would not be incorrect.” 

Members of the BCC commented they were stonewalled by the town board when they presented their concerns and solutions to the town when its members voted, with the exception of Councilwoman Connie Kepert, to increase the size of the landfill from 270 feet to 320 feet, an increase of 50 feet. “Forty years ago, some of us who are here objected to the landfill,” said Brookhaven resident Claire Goad, a former teacher at the Frank P. Long School. She added that a number of teachers who worked at that school, which is just south of the landfill, had died of cancer related illnesses.

Last year, the school was closed briefly due to air pollution problems. South Country Buildings Services Administrator Greg Miglino said that the air filters at that school had to be changed more frequently — every three months — than other school buildings in the district. Another concern expressed at the meeting was the capping of the landfill with ash instead of sand, which creates more air pollution in the form of particulate matter, a common cause of respiratory ailments and asthma. 

Krieger said there were several components to the capping system but ash wasn’t one of them. “The town is currently capping approximately 14 acres of the inactive areas of the landfill,” he said. “The cap was being installed in accordance with New York State Department of Conservation’s-NYCRR Part 360 Rules and Regulations.” 

Attorney Chris Murray, who has been hired by the BCC, was introduced to the audience. “Most of the landfills have been closed,” said local historian Marty Van Lith, who lived in the area when the landfill was first constructed. “Brookhaven hamlet is subsidizing the rest of the town by accepting their ash.” Esposito said the 2 1/2-hour meeting attracted a wider geographical representation than they thought. “It was the four-mile radius where people smell the landfill,” she said. Esposito discussed the BCC’s next step. “We’re going to write a letter to the town and also to the DEC telling them that Chris Murray is our attorney and that we expect to be interested parties in any proceedings,” she said. “We also think it’s telling that the town hasn’t applied yet to the DEC.”

Krieger said Brookhaven had previously submitted draft documents for consideration by the DEC. “The town is waiting to hear back from the DEC as to how they would treat a formal application,” he said. “Once we have official guidance, it is the Department of Waste Management’s intention to proceed with the appropriate filing.” Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko said the BCC’s hiring an attorney means the BCC is anticipating a lawsuit with the town. That new thrust will halt discussions with the group at the landfill liaison committee meetings, he said. “It derails the effectiveness of the landfill liaison committee, which I thought and many thought was a productive way to get information to the residents,” he said. “So, unfortunately, we won’t have discussions at the committee level. I can’t participate in meetings that would be basically discovery sessions.” Lesko said the town would inform the community about the landfill.