A scoping meeting with the public regarding the Brookhaven Landfill was held last Thursday, Oct. 1, via Zoom to help identify concerns with the proposal of an ashfill. The landfill is slated to close in 2024, when it is anticipated to reach capacity.
As part of the SEQRA, an environmental impact statement must be submitted, and that requires a public scoping meeting, such as this one, in order to ensure that public input is considered. Last week’s scoping meeting also kicked off a 30-day period for submission of written comment, too, which is accepted through Nov. 2.
Peter Fontaine, principal environmental analyst at the Town of Brookhaven’s Division Of Environmental Protection, led the Zoom meeting last Thursday and introduced engineering constant VHB’s Candice Andre to present the proposal for the ashfill.
The proposed Regional Recovery and Recycling Residue facility area is 121 acres in total, but the 59-acre facility within that 121 acres makes up the waste footprint.
“Less than half of the 121-acre project site will be occupied by the disposal facility footprint,” Andre said. “Of that, about half of it is already in use for the waste management purposes.”
Andre added that there will be four liners installed at the new facility, which is just west of the current landfill.
Adrienne Esposito, executive director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, spoke during the Zoom meeting and stressed the necessity
of knowing the ashfill’s capacity in tonnage.
“Environmental analysis is obviously important, but to not have a quantity identified I think does a big disservice to the public and to the transparency of the project,” she said.
Shoshana Hershkowitz, who is a member of the Landfill Remediation Group as well as Suffolk Progressives, shared that during the pandemic, which is relevant as a respiratory virus, minority populations have seen more difficulty in dealing with it.
“This is an issue of racial justice,” Hershkowitz said. “We are seeing that the black and Latinx communities are disproportionately being asked to bear the brunt of our waste. They are breathing in air that we have had to pay fines to the EPA for violating air quality in our town.”
Hershkowitz stressed the fact that North Bellport and the immediate areas surrounding the landfill have the lowest life expectancy rates on Long Island.
“I certainly hope that the group of people planning this will speak to that community and will understand that for too long they have borne an unfair brunt of all of our waste and our inability to do a better job reducing waste on Long Island.
Abena Asare, a leader of the Landfill Remediation Group, also spoke during the meeting and expressed her concerns for the health and safety of the residents who live in the surrounding areas.
“We have some grounds to see particularly in terms of respiratory illness, cancer, and other sorts of health illnesses which have been shown to be related to toxic ash,”
Asare said, adding that her children in a few years are slated to attend Frank P. Long School, which is less than one mile south of the existing landfill.
“There have been lots of questions about the health of the students at the Frank P. Long School. Some of those questions remain outstanding. I think it is very important in this environmental impact statement to have some sort of research and studies done about the health impacts of the existing landfill and also the health impacts of other ashfills. We have other ashfills which exist
throughout the country.”
Monique Fitzgerald, another leader of the landfill opposition group and a Bellport resident, stressed that the town relayed in 2017 that the landfill will be closing in 2024.
“Yet at the same time, there was a push or a proposal being put in place for this second ashfill,” Fitzgerald said. “I don’t think that was good faith on the Town of Brookhaven’s side because if we are talking about landfills, and you are telling us you are closing a landfill for you to also be proposing a second ashfill at the same time… if you are going to be transparent.”
Kerim Odekon, a primary care physician in the area, expressed concern for how the presentation paints what the ashfill entails.
“It is an expansion of the capacity of the existing solid waste management facility. The proposed landfill needs to be examined as an expansion,” Odekon said. “The cumulative impact of the existing landfill, the proposed landfill expansion in the ashfill, and the simultaneously proposed waste transfer station all need to be looked at in a whole coordinated fashion.”
The public comment period is 30 days, and submissions are accepted through Nov. 2.