Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions



For immediate release:
Monday, December 17, 2012
For more information contact:
Adrienne, Esposito, (516) 390-7150, (631) 384-1378 (mobile), aesposito@citizenscampaign.org
Kathleen O'Neill, Communications Manager, American Lung Association, (518) 545-5015


Ash from Sandy Debris Plague Brookhaven Residents

BROOKHAVEN, NY — Lower Brookhaven is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy, but not in the form of flooding, downed trees, or power outages - from incinerator ash. In an attempt to manage increased vegetated debris from Hurricane Sandy, four “Air Curtain Destructors”, or burn box units have been located at the Brookhaven Landfill to assist in the solid waste disposal process. Brookhaven Town was given an emergency exemption by the DEC, which allows them to burn brush in these Air Curtain Destructors and exceed air quality standards. CCE has received numerous complaints about ash falling in communities and associated health concerns. Residents and business owners say they can see the smoke rising from the landfill and have been inundated with ash raining down throughout town landing on homes, backyards and cars.

“We understand that we are facing a storm debris and waste management crisis on Long Island. But compromising public health is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “We didn’t have a volcano erupt, we had a hurricane, yet members of this community are finding their cars and property covered in ash. That’s not a natural disaster, that’s a poor decision. It may be easier and cheaper to bring all the tree debris to the Brookhaven landfill and burn it, but easy and cheap should not be more important than protecting public health and safety,” Esposito added.

One of these Air Curtain Destructors is being used at Floyd Bennett Park and EPA located 8 monitoring stations around the apparatus to ensure public safety. Brookhaven has zero monitoring. According to the EPA, fine particulate matter can be so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.

Jeff Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast, said “This burning adds insult to injury; there is simply no excuse for circumventing existing air quality standards. Brookhaven, like many parts of our region, is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. To knowingly increase air pollution and risk having people breathe in particle pollution is not just wrong, it’s irresponsible. Particle pollution, when inhaled, is akin to rubbing sandpaper against the lungs. We’re seeing ash remnants from the burning all over town and people deserve to be protected from breathing in this soot.”


Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

updated by tbono  12/17/12