Date: September 30, 2011 11:09:18 AM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;
Subject: Brookhaven Community Coalition Meeting Minutes
Brookhaven Community Coalition – Landfill Liaison Committee Meeting (BCC/LLC)
Wednesday September 21, 2011
Commissioner Mike Verni commenced the meeting with a pledge of allegiance and then introductions. s
Marty Van Lith briefed all on the background and current undertakings of the BCC/LLC and history of the Landfill.
Adrienne Esposito explained why all are in attendance tonight; to address the landfill and compost issues in the Town. Two main goals of the BCC are to 1. Close the landfill early and 2. Rescind the compost variance to get it enclosed. She cited examples from across the country which are similar in size to LIC that are enclosed and successful.
At the request of Commissioner Verni, Adrienne read the letter to the Commissioner from Joe Williams, Suffolk County. The letter provided information on how and where emergency responders to the 2010 compost fire should get tested. SUNY Stony Brook Medical Center will be providing testing to emergency responders. The letter also stated that the County is currently developing a list of contaminated properties to share with fire districts so they may be prepared going into fires.
Adrienne announced the new campaign "If You Smell Something, Say Something" and passed out signs and magnets to community members with the phone number for the DEC odor complaint hotline.
Commissioner Verni introduced Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko, Brian Bendenbender and Matt Miner. Supervisor Lesko thanked firefighters and emergency responders and gave an update on Landfill and Compost. He mailed a letter to DEC Commissioner Martens asking him to consider BCC’s concerns. He stated that he urged Regional Director Peter Scully to be aggressive and to do a top to bottom review of the facility. He clarified that the Town’s responsibilities at the LIC are limited to height, width, spacing of piles as well as noise and odor. He said he was in the middle of the fire last year and may also get tested at SUNY Stony Brook medical center for exposure to radioactivity. He gave a list of the complaints and the Towns response to recent events at LIC. One event in August, Code Enforcement shut down operations after a noise complaint. Another noise complaint on September 14 was responded to, but no noise was occurring when workers arrived. On September 13, Fire Marshalls did an unexpected visit and found that the height and width were in compliance. The Supervisor said he met with the owner of the facility and requested that he install poles to determine the proper height of the piles and he seemed pretty open to it. As far as radioactivity, he said that they were in contact with the County and are waiting on the results. The County Health Department told Supervisor Lesko that based on preliminary findings, there are no health risks.
Adrienne asked him to clarify. Based on what? What are the levels? She asked if that meant that the test results found no radionuclides nor manganese. Supervisor responded that he didn’t know and the question would have to be asked at the County level – suggested that they and the DEC are present at future meetings to answer questions.
The supervisor also clarified some concerns regarding sludge at the landfill. He said the Town will not take in anymore sludge – it is no longer permitted, and it is a done deal.
Matthew Miner, Waste Management, Brookhaven responded to the complaints that the odors recently have been worse than usual. He said this is because they are beginning to do the capping of 15 acres of the landfill and to do this, there has been some cutting occurring. This process causes odors to escape. The cutting process is near completion and they don’t plan to do more in the foreseeable future. As far as the plastic bag issue, the Town has notified all C&D vendors that the products are unacceptable and they must change, or the Town will revoke their privileges. He also said that because the next section of cell 6 is being built in a different location, there will not be a big issue of odors because of the wind.
Supervisor also updated the BCC on the status of the Solar Panel RFP. They’ve hired TRC as the energy consultant and are looking at 10-15 sites including the landfill, Town Hall, car ports, etc. to install solar pv. RFP to go out in early October. He also wanted to let everyone know that he’s still working on getting a ‘one-stop-shop’ phone number for the Town, County, and DEC. He is looking into other options on how to increase Town revenue, to plan for the landfill closure. He said they welcome discussion on funding options. One possibility is reconstruction of Town government so they are not so dependent on the landfill for income. One option would be for BCC to get it on the ballot and let the people decide. Right now, about 40-45% of the Town’s revenue comes from the landfill.
The meeting was opened up for questions.
Rob Deshler asked about the DEC letter from the Supervisor. He told the Supervisor that he didn’t actually state his position in the letter – why? Supervisor Lesko responded that he wants to wait until the DEC tells him what to do, and that he does not "throw bombs." He will work with the DEC Commissioner and Regional Director and will not make decisions without all information. He also said that because the variance would only force them to cover a portion of the site, that doesn’t cover the whole problem.
Marty pointed out that many other elected officials have written support to implementing regulatations on compost. We need local Government support for DEC to go in and regulate, who can’t right now because their hands are tied. He told the Supervisor "we need your help."
Adrienne said that they were never made to comply to the consent order issued years ago and should have been. She explained that the BCC wasn’t "throwing bombs", it is a legitimate request and they never should have gotten a variance in the first place. She expressed strong disagreement that a community fighting back shouldn’t be mischaracterized in such a derogatory fashion. We DO need to tell the DEC what the community needs, not wait to be told how things work.
Supervisor Lesko said that is not what he does. The decision is under the jurisdiction in which it lies.
Mark pointed out that the issue of garbage in the roads that was discussed at the last LLC meeting has still not been addressed. Even today, if you drove around, the roads are full of litter and there are stronger odors – just getting worse.
Supervisor Lekso responded that he purpose of the LLC is to have a productive conversation, not throw around accusations. He said that no other Supervisor has done what he has done and he expects these meetings to be constructive.
Commissioner Verni pointed out that it was the Supervisor who asked for the meeting at the fire house with emergency responders present. Supervisor Lekso agreed this was true, but said he does not appreciate being on the receiving end of accusations. He said he wants to identify then solve the problems.
John O’Hara from the Brookhaven Industrial Group said that this administration did not bring these companies here, but they are dealing with them. The County is now trying to sell the old Grucci plant into several different plots, but there is a plume under that property. Potential buyers did groundwater testing and consequentially backed out of purchasing the land when they found levels of alpha and beta. He said that there are few industrial things in the area that may be the source of the problem. Adrienne corrected him and said that we do know the source of the radioactivity is the LI compost. We will be able to look closer at all levels when the data is released.
Resident Jim stressed the horrible odors living downwind from the landfill – can’t go outside, enjoy the BBQ or pool. Poor quality of life.
Art Governale asked if anyone knows of any health agencies that have done blood tests. Stated knowledge of "Aspergillus Niger" found in blood of those sickened by compost exposure. (This is a fungus known commonly as black mold.) Mr. Governale also asked if the people at the landfill thought to cover it every day and cited examples of daily cover in Mass. Matt Miner responded that they do use alternative daily cover – over 300,000 tons a year as an alternative to sand.
Jeffery Davis from the Middle Island Fire Department stated that he is happy to hear Suffolk County will be offering testing. He wouldn’t have known about the issues around the compost if he didn’t pick up the paper at all. He said the Town/County should have contacted them by now about it. He pointed out that you can’t test until you know what to test for. Suggested holding a meeting with other fire departments. Adrienne agreed that another meeting should be held when the data comes out.
Mike Brown asked if there is anything you can do with burning methane to help on rainy days when it is the worst? Matt Miner responded; yes, that is why we are capping the 15 acres – it helps with control. The more gas they pull out, the less in the community.
Supervisor Lesko wanted to stress the importance of recycling. He said we need to increase recycling rates to record highs and possibly go to single stream recycling.
Johan McConnel mentioned that the Town Composting Committee made recommendations but there was never a resolution to accept them. They have not gone anywhere, we should revisit those. Supervisor Lesko says there was a report from the Committee Chair; Councilwoman Kepert. He said they were accepted, but the issue got tied up in the Manorville Facility. This is an action item for the LLC.
Chris Roseyt address the July 2010 fire. He said black soot was everywhere around his house for months. He asked if testing was only available to the emergency responders, or if residents could get tested also. The Town/County will look into that. He also asked if it was possible to monitor and limit the inventory of the compost facility. Supervisor Lesko responded that mulch isn’t regulated by DEC. Adrienne pointed out that there are other models that are 100% enclosed. Supervisor Lesko asked for a list of facilities.
Claire Goad asked how many inches of Landfill cover were used every day. Matt Miner responded that ash and alternate daily cover are enough to cover the C&D. Don’t have daily numbers.
Don Seubert suggested that the Town should include mandatory enclosure to the Town Code. Supervisor will look into this.
Mark Knowles said there has been exponential growth for 17 years, and asked how it can continue to grow. How high will it get? Which percent is recyclable? Why wasn’t the sludge tested? Supervisor Lesko said there was absolutely no health risk whatsoever, it was an odor issue. He said there were no haz-mat suits.
Resident Malcolm corrected the Supervisor on his statement that no Supervisor has done what he has done. Malcolm said "Jim Hyle sat where you sat." He said he used to fly over the dump every day and he noticed that everything to the south of it began dying. The leachate destroyed the community. He said there should be fines for people who don’t do what they are supposed to do. He said that more people showed up to the BCC meeting than did to the Town Board meeting the evening before – shows people care. He asked if the Supervisor was going to continue threatening business owners with jail time if they didn’t pay the new fees. The Supervisor said it is a new state mandated requirement – he must enforce it.
Ronnie asked if all the hurricane debris has been burned. Town responded not yet – there is a plan to chip and burn all by October 1. He asked if the landfill is needed for revenue, why isn’t the empire zone taxed? The Supervisor said the empire zone doesn’t exist anymore, but some companies still enjoy tax abatements to keep them here and to supply jobs. Many of them pay partial taxes.
Robert Dorsey addressed the noise issue. He said when we call, they come, but the problem is that at night, the gates are locked and workers can’t get in. Supervisor was not aware of this, will talk to code enforcement – they need to be able to get in.
Supervisor Lesko concluded that he sees this coalition as a positive entity. He relates to the emergency responders and there needs to be a clear protocol to provide service. He urges all in attendance to stay involved with the coalition, they can get you the info you need.--
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
225a Main Street, Farmingdale, NY 11735