Regarding DEC Rescinds Long Island
Compost Variance

Long Island Advance November 3, 2011 

The South Yaphank Civic Association (SYCA) applauds the recent DEC decision to revoke the variance given to Long Island Compost (LIC) to operate an open air facility in Yaphank and force the majority of its activity indoors along with imposing other restrictions such as the size of compost piles and on-site storage of compost products that are not completely cured or matured.

Since the establishment of LIC here in Yaphank in 1998, SYCA has fought to protect our residents from the unhealthy presence of this facility.  SYCA president Johan McConnell and residents Diane Barone and Donna Cioffi worked tirelessly with Legislator Kate Browning, Brookhaven Councilwoman Connie Kepert and other officials to address these problems.

Their efforts led to air quality studies that were conducted in 2006 at the direction of Legislator Browning in conjunction with the Suffolk County Department of Health Services resulting in 797 air samples taken on 37 separate days producing an abundance of data to address.  The overall results supported the claims against the facility. LIC was proven to have the highest level of odor and particulates as well as the worst overall air quality of all composting facilities in the study; easily meeting the “nuisance” guideline.

Councilwoman Kepert in December of 2010 introduced legislation to amend DEC regulations that would remove the exempt status of LIC.  In 2011, she reached out to Senator Lee Zeldin and Assemblyman Dean Murray to help transform the resolutions she introduced to make DEC enforcement of preferred practices at all compost facilities within the Town of Brookhaven an integral part of New York State Law.  Later this year, Ms. Kepert contacted NYSDEC Commissioner Joe Martens requesting that the DEC rescind the variance granted to LIC, and require that their operations be enclosed while Town Supervisor Mark Lesko requested a full review of all operations at LIC.

Ms. Kepert also fought the closing of the Town operated Manorville Compost facility which the DEC investigations revealed was one of the best run facilities citing that its closing would be detrimental to Yaphank residents and would not save the Town of Brookhaven money.  The Town Board agreed and voted to keep Manorville open.

Later this year, Councilwoman Kepert and Legislator Browning were joined by local civic leaders as well as Senator Zeldin, Assemblyman Murray, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment director Adreinne Esposito and other community groups which led to the establishment of the Brookhaven Community Coalition (BCC).  The formation of the BCC was crucial in demonstrating that Long Island Compost was not just a South Yaphank problem but a problem for many communities and it created a unified voice for all concerned.  The result of course is the recent rulings which clearly define what’s expected of LIC and more importantly that the regulations will be enforced.

We wish to thank everyone for pulling together to solve a problem that not only affected our community but all communities surrounding this facility as well as the people of Suffolk County who were indirectly affected by the threat posed to groundwater we all share.

Great job everyone!

John Palasek
Yaphank