Tags Posts tagged with "Ashfill"


Trucks line up outside the Brookhaven landfill. Photo courtesy Samantha Rutt

By Samantha Rutt

The Town of Brookhaven landfill, a towering 192-acre presence on Yaphank’s landscape, is set for a partial closure this year, but its complete demise might not be as imminent as planned. 

The initial plan, set in motion years ago, aimed for a complete closure of the landfill by 2024. While construction and demolition debris disposal has been earmarked to cease by the end of 2024, the facility could remain open until 2027 or 2028 to accept incinerator ash, sparking debates about environmental impact and responsible waste management. 

A 2021 Town of Brookhaven exploratory report stated, “The Brookhaven landfill is anticipated to reach the capacity limits of its DEC permit by December 2024, creating a challenge for residents and Brookhaven Town regarding the future disposal of MSW [municipal solid waste], ash and construction and demolition debris.”

However, new Town Supervisor Dan Panico (R) has thrown a wrench in that timeline, seeking a permit extension allowing the facility to accept ash from Covanta’s Westbury waste-to-energy plant until 2027 or 2028. 

“We will cease taking construction and demolition debris at the end of 2024, and we will continue taking ash, not only from the Town of Brookhaven Covanta but from Islip, Smithtown and Huntington as it is a regional ash fill,” Panico said in an interview with Newsday. “That will probably go through 2027 and cease in the first month of 2028.” 

The town would need to seek an extension of its state-issued permit when it expires in July 2026. This decision stems from the lack of alternative disposal solutions for the roughly 340,000 tons of ash generated annually by Covanta, which serves much of Suffolk County. The landfill stands as Brookhaven’s second-biggest source of income after property taxes, expected to generate $55 million in 2024, implying sizable financial implications for when the property closes.

“It is not necessarily an extension because the waste-to-energy facilities are a reality and a necessity on Long Island,” Panico said in an interview.

The news has divided the community. Proponents of the extension argue it buys valuable time for exploring alternatives. Opponents, however, express concerns about potential environmental repercussions. 

Locals have gathered together in efforts against the landfill, raising their concerns. Currently, the town is underway with a state-ordered assessment by the Department of Environmental Conservation of a toxic plume emanating from the landfill. 

In North Bellport and areas surrounding the landfill, community members have joined together to create the Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group. This group has committed itself to finding sustainable solutions for the disposal of Long Island’s waste. 

“The time is now. The time was yesterday,” Monique Fitzgerald, Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group co-founder, said on the group’s Facebook page. “The time was 50 years ago. This is not to wait. You’re talking about this, which is going to take two years. We can’t keep pushing this down the road. If we have a moment of intervention, this is the time to act.”

In densely populated areas like Long Island, with limited landfill space, communities are often left to grapple with balancing environmental concerns and the practicalities of managing massive amounts of waste.

The Town Board is currently evaluating the permit extension request, considering public input and environmental assessments. Environmental groups like the Long Island Pine Barrens Society have voiced their opposition, urging the board to explore alternatives like recycling, composting and waste-to-fuel technologies.

The Brookhaven landfill saga stands as a microcosm of Long Island’s larger waste management challenges. As the closure deadline looms, the community faces a crucial decision: Extend the landfill’s life for a temporary fix or invest in long-term, sustainable solutions. The next few years will be critical in shaping the future of waste management in the region and potentially impacting the environment and communities for years to come.

The Brookhaven Landfill is set to close in 2024, but while the town has put aside money towards that end, a concrete plan has yet to materialize. Photo from Google maps

Brookhaven Town is planning for a potentially long-term project that could have Islandwide impact on residents’ waste.

Advocates protested in front of the landfill Oct. 31. Photo from Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the town announced it has issued a request for proposal for a regional ash processing and recycling facility. The town has two alternatives on the RFP, one that includes an ashfill component and the other a standalone ash-recycling facility without the ashfill. The site would be located just east of the current landfill site at 350 Horseblock Road in Yaphank.

Such a facility would not accept solid waste or construction debris. No full decision has technically been made on constructing any new ashfill, as the town is still awaiting the word on an environmental review.

The town has planned to close and cap the current landfill in 2024 and has been raising millions of dollars in a special fund for that date when it’s finally capped. Officials and experts have said the closing of the Island’s last landfill, combined with the potential closing of twin ashfills in the Town of Babylon, could create a garbage crisis on Long Island. The only options left for solid waste could be trucking it off Long Island, a costly proposition for towns that are likely to be suffering from pandemic-related expenses for years.

Currently, the Brookhaven landfill handles over 350,000 tons of ash annually from energy-from-waste facilities, in addition to handling 720,000 tons of solid waste. Each day 2,000 trucks transport waste off the Island. 

Still, murmurs of the prospective ashfill site have led to controversy over the past year. Some residents and advocates have petitioned and publicly protested against the creation of any new place to dump ash, saying it will cause health issues for residents who live near the landfill. 

On Oct. 31, residents and advocates protested in front of the landfill against such a new ashfill. Activists for the protest organizer, Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group, said the location of this new ashfill was especially concerning with more than half the residents of the surrounding community are Black or Latino, according to census data. Those residents have complained about odor and health issues, pointing to the landfill as the culprit.

The group called for a “regional solution” to the solid waste issue. 

“We stand with the African American, Latinx, Indigenous, and working-class communities of North Bellport who refuse to continue bearing the brunt of the Town of Brookhaven’s fiscal mismanagement and lack of environmental planning,” said Monique Fitzgerald, a Bellport activist and leader of the landfill action group, in a release. 

Still, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) has also sought such regional efforts, though there is not much in the way of any one person or group stepping up to the plate. 

At a Feb. 27 meeting of the Long Island Regional Planning Council about the impending solid waste crisis, business leaders, officials and regional leaders called for potentially finding other ways to ship trash off Long Island. Romaine suggested innovation in ways for residents to dispose of garbage rather than just burning or storing in landfills.

The Brookhaven Landfill is set to close in 2024, but while the town has put aside money towards that end, a concrete plan has yet to materialize. Photo from Google maps

The inevitable closure of the Brookhaven Landfill in 2024 looms large on Long Island and the surrounding region. The burden of how to dispose of millions of solid waste still remains unresolved. The Town of Brookhaven has been considering its options, and one of them could be a new ashfill just east of where the current landfill is located in Brookhaven hamlet. 

Ed Romaine. Photo by Kyle Barr

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said 500 acres of additional land owned by the town could be used for such a site. 

“There are probably 200 acres that we could take a look at for a regional ashfill,” he said. “We are looking to get feedback from other municipalities, we are in the premature stages.”

The site would handle only ash, and the town would not take any construction and demolition debris. While the money brought in from an ash site would bring in much-needed funds to Brookhaven, Romaine said it still leaves them with the issue of the construction and demolition debris, adding that with the closure of the landfill and no alternative for an on-Island site accepting that refuse, it would cause a crisis in the construction and building industry.

Currently, the Brookhaven Landfill handles over 350,000 tons of ash annually from energy-from-waste facilities, in addition to handling 720,000 tons of solid waste. Each day 2,000 trucks transport waste off the Island

Romaine said he hasn’t had any direct conversations with state officials or the state Department of Environmental Conservation on the idea of a new ashfill site. Though he mentioned some members of his staff may have had conversations on the matter. 

For such a site there would be the need for an environmental impact study as well as DEC approval. The Town Board would also have to make a decision as well. 

Though news about what could be another site of dumping in an area that has already complained about odor issues has not gone well with town critics.

Will Ferraro, activist and a 2019 Democratic candidate for Brookhaven supervisor, has created a petition against the proposed ashfill site. He said an ashfill site does nothing to solve long-term fiscal problems. 

“Instead of making a proposal to solve our long-term solid waste crisis and the serious environmental health issues related to it, this will only exacerbate the threats to our air quality and groundwater,” he said. 

Ferraro created the petition following a Newsday blog post discussing the potential ashfill site. His petition, “Say No to a Second Landfill in Brookhaven,” begs the Town Board to reject any proposals relating to a second landfill or ashfill site, as well as to develop a “comprehensive proposal to deal with our solid waste crisis, that can be brought to our regional partners at the state, county and town levels,” among other demands. 

Romaine reiterated that the town is not considering a second landfill, but only an ashfill. Back in February at a Long Island Regional Planning Council panel, the Brookhaven supervisor called for collaboration to solve what he called a “regional crisis.” 

In a June 15 letter to the council, Romaine reaffirmed his stance by urging it to work with the 13 towns, two counties, two cities and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop solutions. 

“Even if we are able to do so now, it will still take several years to implement any changes,” he said, adding, “If we don’t address this issue now, it is going to be yet another thing that will make Long Island a less desirable place to live and work.”