Friday, September 30, 2011

LI Advance article: DEC looks at mulch site regulation

From: Sharon - Brookhaven Community Coalition []
Sent: Friday, September 30, 2011 12:04 PM
Subject: LI Advance article: DEC looks at mulch site regulation


DEC looks at mulch site regulation
Story By:  LINDA LEUZZI, Editor



29 September 2011


Department of Environmental Conservation Long Island Regional Director Peter Scully said the state agency was hoping to roll out proposed revisions to Part 360 regulations by the end of the year that would address sites like Beaver Industries in Yaphank, where a combustible fire erupted last week.
“It accepts land clearing debris and ships it into a mulch product,” Scully said of the facility at 275 Main Street. “It’s located on residentially-zoned property. The town took it to court to bring it in compliance. The current solid waste regulations specifically exempts those facilities with land clearing debris and it is possible [the regulation] could be amended.”
“[Beaver Industries] is just blatantly illegal,” said Supervisor Mark Lesko. “They’re not in compliance with town zoning. We sued them and urged the court to close the facility there. The judge denied a temporary restraining order but that doesn’t mean they denied the request to shut them down. He said ‘I’ll hear the lawsuit and make a decision.’ It’s a bad situation.”
When contacted, a representative from Beaver Industries commented there was no one who could talk about the fire and hung up. 
Legislator Kate Browning said the DEC could create regulation over land clearing debris and mulch sites, which she’s been pushing. “The state health commissioner and state health officials have balked at regulation,” she said. “Beaver Industries, I believe their piles were at 40 feet. You’re talking about air quality in residential communities. If you don’t regulate them, they’ll continue to do what they’re doing and local residents will wind up with health problems.” Browning contacted Fire Rescue Emergency Services Commissioner Joe Williams the day of the fire, who sent a representative to the site as well as Suffolk County Department of Health. “My chief fire marshal was there and I was told [the piles were] 40 feet in height,” Williams said. “I recommended and it’s a fact that it’s best to wear self-contained breathing apparatus, even in building fires, that’s a national standard.
Brookhaven Fire Department second assistant chief Tom Connors said his department was activated at 11:16 a.m. Thursday morning. “I was directing all the big tankers needed for water,” he said. “I saw a lot of smoke. It came under control about 1:30 p.m.
Councilwoman Connie Kepert, who headed the town’s compost committee, said a number of recommendations were made and passed by the town board Oct. 2010. “We passed a sense regulation recommending the DEC amend mulch exemption and sent a copy to Scully as well as to Senator Lee Zeldin and Assemblyman Dean Murray,” she said. “Then we had numerous conversations about air quality standards. They are regional and not site specific.” Kepert said another sense resolution was passed. “If we have the DEC going to Long Island Compost, for example, and they do a sniff test and also measure the particulate matter, if it doesn’t affect the entire region, which is Long Island, then it’s bogus and they can’t regulate it. We also asked them to enforce preferred practices at all facilities within the town.”
The Yaphank fire erupted hours after the Brookhaven Community Coalition and community residents met with Lesko last Wednesday night at the Brookhaven Fire Department. Their topics included concern about the town supervisor not asking the DEC to rescind the Long Island Compost permit which would require them to enclose the facility. 
“The actual oversight primarily lies with state DEC and Suffolk County Department of Health,” Lesko told the Advance. “That site has been regulated by those entities and they have to date not shut them down nor have they made them enclose. I don’t know specifically why the DEC and county Department of Health have made those decisions, the enclosure issue could be the size. But the Brookhaven Community Coalition gave me information about large enclosed facilities. If I’m going to take a definitive position I want it to be an informed one. With Long Island Compost, the enclosure would only address about 15 percent of the property. You have 85 percent of the rest with mulch piles. So, even if you went to enclosed processing, you are really not solving the major problem. I sent my letter to DEC to review the issue and had a personal phone call pursuant to my request and the coalition’s request. The DEC is not only looking at the variance but are conducting a top-to-bottom review of the way they regulate the facility so the coalition is getting more than they ask and that’s a good thing. There’s no doubt Long Island Compost negatively impacts the lives of residents within the vicinity so I have no problems urging the DEC, the county Department of Health and Long Island Compost to improve their quality of life standards.” 
BCC Executive Board member Marty Van Lith, who attended the meeting, said Lesko took questions from the audience for well over an hour until after 9 p.m. “To give him credit, at least he’s meeting with us,” Van Lith said. “No previous supervisor has done that over the last 40 years.”
Van Lith cited the Delaware County MSW Co-Composting facility in upstate Walton, New York, just one of several enclosed processing facilities in the country.
Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito who is steering the BCC’s issues, commented there was concern and anger regarding Lesko not committing yet to the BCC’s request to enclose Long Island Compost. “There was an honest dialogue about the compost facility and the landfill and we are moving ahead,” she said.


No comments: