BREAKING: Ashfill plan ditched over cost concerns

Supervisor Ed Romaine, board eyes recycling and renewables


Supervisor Ed Romaine and members of the town board announced that the town will not continue to pursue the construction of a regional municipal ashfill at the Yaphank site south of the landfill.

The Brookhaven landfill will cease accepting ash and construction and demolition debris once the capacity is reached under its current permit.

“When New York passed the Long Island Landfill law, the state was supposed to create laws to reduce the waste stream, increase recycling and create regional solutions for waste management. That was never done. When our facility reaches capacity under its current permit, we will stop taking in material and handle our waste in the same manner as every other town on Long Island has since 1989 when their landfills closed,” said Romaine. “To solve Long Island’s garbage crisis, the state must address the source of the problem by regulating excessive packaging, mandating the use of recycled material and creating new recycling markets so the material our res- idents sort for recycling has a place to go.”

The town announced plans for a Regional Refuse and Recycling Facility, or ashfill, in 2017 as part of its application for a New York State Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Grant. The facility was to accept only ash from waste-to-energy plants and cover material. Accord- ing to town officials, the town originally planned to continue to accept ash to pro- vide residents with a “safe, regulated and affordable” means of locally disposing their residential waste.

However, cost estimates for the pro- posed facility proved too high from original estimates, showing $32.25 million to now over $178 million with an average annual debt service over the proposed 20-year operational period is estimated to be approximately $10.4 million.

Also, the town received only one response to its Request for Proposals for an ash facility, which, town officials wrote, “failed to adequately address the components of the RFP, required a large capital investment by the town without significant revenue to offset the cost, and as proposed did not guarantee a significant amount of waste as being recycled or reused.”

The Town of Brookhaven Ad-Hoc Committee for Solid Waste Disposal recommended against the creation of the land- fill as a burden on the community for the last 50 years. The decision was made and issued by a majority vote last month.

Romaine thanked the committee for their hard work, noting the diverse group that was organized. The committee was made up of several community stakeholders including Gregory Miglino Jr., chief of the South Country Ambulance Company; Tom Williams, Brookhaven Village Association; Ray Fell, Bellport mayor; Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment; and five others.

“I selected a diverse group of people to go in and take a look at this and they did an excellent job outlining the problems we face,” Romaine said, happy with the report.

The recommendations made by the committee were reviewed by the supervisor and the town board. Ultimately, Romaine said, the town will not support an ashfill.

“The town wants to take a step back from the garbage business,” he added, noting that they do not regulate garbage at multi-family housing or commercial and industrial sites. “We are not going to build an ashfill, for a lot of different reasons, but the major reason is financial.”

According to the report, the committee also found limitations and complications to the potential of a new ashfill site, including homes and farms impacted by the proximity to a new facility. The pro- posed 5-acre site would be a significant industrial processing facility adjacent to a residential area.

“This raises serious concerns about the impact to local community including escaping ash/dust, which is particulate matter, noise, leachate and water quality,” the report read.

The report cited odor and air-quality concerns that have been an ongoing issue with complaints from the local community and members of the Frank P. Long Intermediate School. If pursued, the committed said, the town would have needed a state-of-the-art air-monitoring system for the community and for Frank P. Long School.

Also, traffic was listed as a concern, especially along Horseblock Road, as well as the current issue with garbage and dust being stirred up as cars and trucks enter and exit the current facility, which all contribute to poor air quality.

Romaine agreed, also noting that when he first took office, he promised that he wouldn’t expand the landfill and would find other solutions as to not burden the community. Garbage, he said, will continue to be picked up at the curb through private contractors, who will ultimately decide its end life.