Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions


Source: South Shore Press

Role of Brookhaven Landfill Looms Larger in Wake of Hurricane Sandy


Posted: November 30, 2012
Originally Published: November 28, 2012

It towers over the countryside and has been the subject of local angst and health concerns for decades. Yet, the Brookhaven landfill in Yaphank remains the town’s biggest cash cow, and now, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the recipient of tons of debris from the massive storm cleanup.

Just days before the superstorm hit, a group founded to serve as a watchdog over the landfill, the Brookhaven Community Coalition, played a major card in its ongoing battle against the noise, odors, and environmental hazards of the mammoth facility. Citing numerous violations, the BCC petitioned the state to suspend Brookhaven Town’s operating permit.

“This is the warning shot for the landfill,” said Adrienne Esposito, BCC board member and founder of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, in filing the state request. “We put the town and the DEC on notice that the landfill has to be run within the regulations.”

Then, Hurricane Sandy elevated the landfill’s stature as a depository for the region’s waste which, from the storm alone, is estimated to bring the town a million dollars.

Brookhaven’s new supervisor, Ed Romaine, underscored the value of the landfill and the need to plan for a future without it. Speaking before the BCC shortly after his election, Romaine said he shared the group’s concerns and will make weaning the town off the $40 million in annual revenue the landfill generates one of his top priorities.

Stressing that he is opposed to raising the height of the landfill from its current 270 feet, Romaine said he will seek a regional approach to the waste management challenges facing all Long Island’s towns.

“Most towns look at garbage as an expense, while in Brookhaven we look at it as revenue. This revenue source is not going to last forever and we need to start planning for it now,” Romaine said, noting that the facility’s projected 15-year life span could be reduced as the storm debris pours in.

In the meantime, Esposito said the BCC will keep the pressure on the town and the State Department of Environmental Conservation, which oversees landfill operations, to make sure the facility is properly managed. According to Esposito, key community concerns include leachate collection system upgrades, the amount and type of debris the town accepts, and the height of the landfill. “They should be operating in a way that protects us and the environment,” Esposito said.