The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was finally at the table on Jan. 23, a first since the Beaver Dam Creek Water Quality group has been meeting with Brookhaven Town and county officials to address the leachate plume emanating from the town landfill. The town’s search for monitoring wells had also been tackled. This is the group’s fourth meeting since it first gathered to grapple with solutions in September.
“Chart Guthrie, New York state DEC fisheries manager for Region 1, reported that an invertebrate study was done in Beaver Dam Creek in both 2003 and 2008 but did not have the results with him,” said Marty Van Lith, who represents the Open Space Council.
Of the 51 people identified within the path of the plume, 21 were residing southeast of the landfill and 30 others were south of Beaver Dam Road. Van Lith said the town reported that currently well over 20 of the people contacted within the plume’s path were already using water from the Suffolk County Water Authority. The remainder of those in its path are getting notices by Suffolk County Department of Health, which is sending representatives door-to-door to test the wells. Those not receiving SCWA water will be given the chance to switch for free if they are on well water within the area.
Of the six wells SCDH tested, none showed contamination of leachate indicators, Van Lith said.
“The town agreed to put in a new well for the HOG (Hamlet Organic Garden) Farm and the question is where to put it,” said Tom Williams, vice president of the Post-Morrow Foundation. “They also found 70 percent of the monitoring wells, more than they thought.”
In an e-mail, Ed Hubbard, Brookhaven’s commissioner of waste management, said that the town was willing to help with the installation of a new well for the HOG farm. “I understand that the HOG farm has hired a hydrogeologist to work towards locating the proper placement of a new well and the proper depth,” he said. “Once we do a sample round or two in that area, we will have data that could be useful to begin relocation of the well.”
Hubbard confirmed about 60 or so wells had been found and looked to be in good shape. “Within the next two months our consultants will go out and redevelop the wells and begin taking groundwater samples,” Hubbard said. “Redevelopment involves making sure the well casing is secure and at the proper height and purging the water that is in the well to get clean samples.”
Claire Goad, president of Friends of Wertheim, said that the surface waters of Little Neck Run, Beaver Dam and Yaphank creeks had been tested in November. “But it takes three months to get the results,” she said. “(The town) agreed to test these surface waters every three months and the monitoring wells will be tested every six months.”
Another hopeful sign was the town’s recommendation that the current working group, chaired by Councilwoman Connie Kepert (4th District), is to be formalized by town resolution. Currently, Williams, Van Lith, Goad and Mary Jane Cullen, president of the Brookhaven Village Association, are the Brookhaven hamlet contingency. While Van Lith said they weren’t euphoric, the cooperative mood since they first met had improved and was more constructive and they cited some of Hubbard’s efforts.
Hubbard said additional gas collection piping and the installation of additional clean out chambers to jet out and clean the older leachate lines had been undertaken under his watch over the last few years. Two brand new leachate collection tanks that can hold about 50 percent more leachate than the old tanks and have a leachate aeration system built in were also added. “The current tanks are getting old and are on the future footprint of the landfill and would need to be replaced some time in the future,” he said. “I accelerated this part of the project in order to get additional capacity and to be able to clean out the old tanks and segregate the leachate by cells.”
George Costa, president of the Art Flick Chapter of Trout Unlimited, commented there still was no concrete solution proposed. “Our question is what (is the town) going to do about the plume?” he said. “Are you going to continue doing studies? Chart Guthrie (DEC) said the ammonia levels were a thousand percent above what they should be and that it is affecting the insect life and the fish and plant life. It’s not just fish. It’s all intertwined.”
Hubbard cited the DEC requirements to cap cells 1-4 to cut off leachate over time, which was done, as well as town funds for public water and the HOG Farm and increased frequency and locations of surface water sampling. “Any remediation effort would be problematic and most likely not very successful,” he said. “However, we are exploring options. We may install groundwater wells at one point but right now we will be installing geoprobes instead. Currently we are installing between 10 to 13 geoprobes at various locations.”
Beaver Dam Creek Water Quality group
The Beaver Dam Creek Water Quality group consists of Tom Williams, Post-Morrow Foundation; Marty Van Lith, Open Space Council; Claire Goad, Friends of Wertheim; Mary Jane Cullen, Brookhaven Village Association; George Costa, Trout Unlimited; Adrienne Esposito, Citizens Campaign for the Environment; Sean Pilger, Hamlet Organic Garden; David Tonjes, Stony Brook University; Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning; Ed Hubbard, Brookhaven commissioner of waste management; John Turner, Brookhaven director of environmental protection; Wertheim National Wildlife Preserve; South Shore Estuary Preserve; Suffolk County Department of Health; NYSDEC; consultants David Tonges, Stony Brook University; and Dvirka and Bartilucci