Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brookhaven Village Association Letter to Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko on Town Landfill


The Town of Brookhaven, NY Landfill is located just north of Sunrise Highway, NYS route 27, off Horseblock Road.  It serves not only the Town of Brookhaven , but also other towns and villages on Long Island.  The Town is proposing a significant expansion of the Landfill, primarily as a means of increasing town revenues.  The Brookhaven Village Association has written the following letter to Supervisor Lesko.




Mark Lesko, Supervisor

Town of Brookhaven

1 Independence  Hill

Farmingville, NY 11738


February 23, 2012

Mr Lesko:


The Brookhaven Village Association stands adamantly opposed to your plan to expand the Brookhaven Town landfill. In 1995,The Brookhaven/Southaven Hamlet Study, authored by the Brookhaven Village Association, Post Morrow Foundation and South Haven Civic Association had the following to say about the landfill’s impact on our community:

            “... More than a decade ago, it was recognized that leachate from the landfill has been advancing in a plume through the groundwater south toward the Bay, contaminating wells and threatening the waters of Beaver Dam Creek, and ultimately the Bay itself…”

            “…Odors from the landfill have been a major problem in our study area…serious concerns …raised the issue of a direct impact on the health of local citizens due to emissions from the landfill.”

            “The expansion of the landfill and its continued use to stockpile ash, with its known high content of toxic components, further threatens the health and environment of our community; and this use of a landfill, as a highly effective revenue engine fueled by garbage, skews the economics of waste management in Brookhaven Town in such a way as to discourage efforts at recycling and reducing the overall waste stream.”


The above could have been written now, which shows how little things have changed in this Town, and not for the better. In the intervening 17 years we have seen an increase in water contamination, complaints about smells, and quality of life destruction, not to mention a sharp reduction in property values. Who knows what the long-term health effects might be? The landfill sits well within the boundaries of the Carmans River watershed, which has already been adversely affected by its presence. When toxins from the landfill reach the Great South Bay and render inedible our incredible treasure of shellfish, crabs and other sea life, who will regret the decisions we make today?


We demand that the Town find other sources of revenue, and/or to make appropriate reductions in spending, and stop relying on the landfill to balance the Town’s budget. For our Hamlet’s citizens, and all citizens of Brookhaven Town, including you, Mr. Supervisor, the price is way too high, and not worth whatever reduction in taxes we may get from it. At some point the landfill will have met its capacity. We have been promised again and again that the landfill would be closed forever on specified dates that have come and gone. We feel we have been lied to, taken advantage of, and that we are the victims of shortsightedness and greed. What would you like your legacy to be? We insist that you do the right thing: Work with the LLC to develop a plan to close the landfill and give our Hamlet, and the whole Town, a break.




The Brookhaven Village Association


Kathleen Scheibel, President

Frank Miller, Vice President

Ellen Clyne, Secretary

Janet Quirk, Treasurer

Carol Capaldo, Director

John Curiale, Director

Lenny DaConto, Director

Michael Rizzo, Director

Jeffrey Jensen, Director

Deborah Love Sack, Director

John Knapp, Director

Jeremiah McGiff, Director

Steven Christopher Marshall, Director

Martin VanLith, Historian

Andy Rubin, Dockmaster


cc: Kate Browning

      Connie Kepert



Brookhaven Community Coalition Meeting - March 5th, 7pm

From: Tara Bono <>
Subject: Brookhaven Community Coalition Meeting - March 5th, 7pm

Brookhaven Community Coalition Members,

The next meeting for the Brookhaven Community Coalition has been set for Monday, March 5th. It has been a few months since the full BCC has met and there have since been several recent developments that require the immediate attention and input of community stakeholders.   Please JOIN US.  We need you to attend. 

Topics to be discussed include:
    - Supervisor Lekso's proposal to expand the size (height and/or footprint) of the Landfill.
    - The DEC's revocation of the enclosure variance for Long Island Compost/Great Gardens.
    - Ongoing SCDOH/DEC groundwater investigation - radioactivity, heavy metals, etc.
    - The need for greater active community involvement in advancing these issues. 
            - "If you smell something, say something!"

When:  Monday, March 5th, 2012 - 7pm
Where: Brookhaven Fire House
              2486 Montauk Highway Brookhaven, NY

This meeting is open to the public.

This is a very important and timely meeting, please try to attend!

Hope to see you all there,

Tara Bono
Program Coordinator Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

News 12 - Brookhaven mulls expanding unpopular Yaphank landfill

View News 12 Long Island's report on the Yaphank Landfill.

The sky is the limit

The height  of the dumps is no longer considered an aviation hazard, so you can now fly your ultralight over it. Construction & Demolition debris --Things like sheetrock and insulation stink went they get wet, especially 300,000 tons a year worth of it. That's not incinerator ash on the mountain top in the below picture.

Brookhaven eyes Yaphank landfill expansion

February 20, 2012 by SOPHIA CHANG

Closing the Yaphank landfill could financially cripple Brookhaven Town, Supervisor Mark Lesko acknowledged at a meeting with community leaders and environmentalists.

He broached the possibility that the landfill, which brings in about $45 million in revenue each year, might even be expanded, given the dire condition of the town's finances.

"Should we consider, or not, an expansion of the landfill?" he asked at last week's meeting with the town landfill liaison committee, which includes representatives from 16 community organizations.

"That would result in extending the life of the landfill, but it would also ensure financial stability for this township for as long as this landfill is operational."

Last year, Lesko said at a community meeting that the landfill, which is projected to reach capacity in 17 years, would be closed "eventually."

But declining revenue from real estate taxes and the loss of some landfill contracts has meant that for the past few years, the town has relied on its surplus to cover an annual deficit of about $6 million to $16 million, and balance the $260 million budget.

The surplus will run out soon, Lesko warned, and the town will be on the brink of bankruptcy.

"Where do I turn?" he asked. To avoid layoffs of hundreds of town employees, which he described as "your neighbors and your friends," Lesko said the other option was to generate more revenue from landfill.

"We have to start talking about looking at the landfill as the way to provide short-term relief," he said.

He suggested asking the state Department of Environmental Conservation for permission to increase the amount of landfill material accepted.

The town is now allowed to accept one million tons of refuse a year, and he estimated each additional 100,000 tons of material would generate $200,000 more in fees.

"Would that shorten the life of the landfill?" asked environmentalist Adrienne Esposito.

If accepting more material now would mean closing the landfill earlier, the proposal would be "appealing to most people," she said. "We'd like to see it close sooner."

A second option, to expand the landfill's size, would also mean extending its life, Lesko said.

He cited feeling frustration over being caught between the unpopular landfill -- blamed for years of odor and dust in surrounding neighborhoods -- and the loss of revenue.

"No one wants to talk about it," Lesko said. "It would be the easiest thing for me to just say, 'I don't want to talk about it,' and you deal with it 10 years from now."

PS- As the World Turns

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention LI Compost.

Opinion: The dark side of composting

Originally published  Newsday : February 17, 2012 12:09 PM
Updated: February 20, 2012 12:09 AM
Photo credit: Photo by Stringer News | Firefighters battle a huge blaze at the Long Island Composting Facility on Horseblock Road in Yaphank early Monday morning, July 12, 2010. Stringer News Photo
Adrienne Esposito is executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. Rob Deshler is aBrookhaven firefighter, and both are executive board members of the Brookhaven Community Coalition.
Composting usually invokes images of doing something positive for the Earth; reducing, reusing and recycling all wrapped up together. After all, it turns waste into a resource we need. But there's also a dark side to this expanding industry. When not properly regulated, large-scale composting and transfer stations are downright damaging to surrounding communities. Potent odors, dust, truck traffic, groundwater contamination, fires caused by spontaneous combustion and equipment noise are serious problems plaguing many communities.
Time and again, residents near Long Island Compost, a business in Yaphank, have reported eye-watering odors that prevent them from going outside or opening windows. Blowing dust forces them to use windshield wipers when driving.
After 11 years of documented concerns, Brookhaven residents desperately sought relief. Last year, a diverse group -- including the Brookhaven Fire Department, South Country Central School District, South Country Ambulance, the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and other civic organizations and business owners -- formed the Brookhaven Community Coalition to address public health and environmental concerns from the Brookhaven landfill and from Long IslandCompost.
Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Law revealed that the compost facility was granted a variance by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to operate without enclosing the structure. Enclosing a compost facility within a building, which is normally required, would put a stop to the burdens that communities are experiencing and allow on-site humidity to be regulated, preventing fires and potentially saving lives of our firefighters.
The coalition presented these facts to the DEC and requested the facility finally be required to build an enclosure. The DEC's variance requires that the facility not be a source of odors, dust or a diminished quality of life. The agency agreed that adverse conditions violated the terms in the variance and rescinded it in October. Long Island Compost has appealed this ruling and requested mediation. To date, nothing has changed.
And the concerns keep mounting. Groundwater contamination south of compost facilities inYaphankMoriches and other locations are being documented. Tests taken in 2009 by the SuffolkCounty Health Department came back with high levels of radionuclides, manganese and heavy metals. According to health department data, radiation was detected in one homeowner's well at four times the drinking water standard. Manganese was detected at 31,600 parts per billion; the drinking-water standard is 300. The health department reports that the data point to Long Island Compost as the source.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, drinking water standards are set at the levels that best protect human health. The state DEC and our county health department are obligated to protect the public against such exposures.
A letter written on Feb. 7 to Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) by Suffolk County Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken states that expanded test results south of Long Island Compost found "contaminants consistently detected at unusually elevated concentrations." The bad news doesn't stop there. Heavy metals including strontium, chromium, barium and nickel were frequently found in groundwater samples. These metals are known toxins and are linked to serious health issues.
No business is allowed to contaminate drinking water. The DEC and the county health department have been collecting ground and surface water samples since 2009. The data clearly show we have a problem, and it's time DEC regulations were changed to better regulate compost and other materials processed at these facilities.
The state needs to toughen regulations and require these facilities to be enclosed, so that dust, odor, fires and groundwater contamination are no longer the tolerated, adverse effects of doing business.
Composting should continue, but it must be done without contaminating our environment or threatening the health of Long Island communities.

As the World Turns

This month marks the first anniversary of the formation of the Brookhaven Community Coalition. As a result the land fill odors have gotten worse.   The Landfill Liaison Committee  met with Brookhaven Town Supervisor last Thursday  (The BBC is the executive committee of the LLC). 

They  arrived with our usual agenda of stopping air pollution, slowly weaning the Town off accepting Construction & Demolition debris (which is 1/3 of yearly total and what is causing the odors) and planning for the eventual closing of the Brookhaven Landfill.  We ended the meeting needing smelling salts to revive us. 

Lesko was nasty from the get-go, then wasted an hour having his commissioner explain the latest landfill technology. The meeting ended with Lesko saying that the the Town is broke (mortgage revenue down, economy, blah, blah) and in order not to raise taxes, cut services and to save 90 patronage jobs he needed more money from the landfill.  He said that he got permission from the FAA to make the garbage mountain higher. He also wants to make it bigger by expanding eastward and is planning to ask the DEC to modify the Town permit so that he can take in more than the current 2,900 tons a day as well as to accept more than the current one million metric tons/yr and to continue to operate for the next 30 years. 

How's that for progress?  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

16 Annual Brookhaven Hamlet Winter Tea

16th Annual
Winter Tea

Poetry, Prose and Music
Honoring the memory of our friend
John Binnington

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Brookhaven Free Library
Brookhaven, NY

This much anticipated annual Brookhaven hamlet event had as its theme Contemplation ... Commemoration ...Celebration.  In particular the focus was on the 100th anniversary of the Brookhaven Free Library and the Fireplace Literary Club.  As usual, the little library was packed.

Readers: Mary Hamilton Hawkes, Daniel Love, Jane Love, Debbie Mayo, Craig Nurnberer, and Kathleen Scheibel.
Musicians: Matt & Sam Gelfer, Reiny Schuhmann, and Charlie Setlow;
The Swingettes: Diana Foster, Jean Johnston, Deborah Love, Patsy Rogers, Karen Rowley, and Karen Wexler.

The program:

All the World's a Stage William Shakespeare
The Swingettes Recorder ensemble
        Gimme a Little Kiss  R. Turk/J. Smith/M. Pinkard.  Arranged for recorders by Stan Davis
         You Made Me Love You J. Monaco/J. McCarthy.  Arranged for recorders by Stan Davis
        I Cant Give You Anything But Love J. McHugh/D. Fields.  Aranged for recorders by Stan Davis
Because of Libraries We Can Say These Things Naomi Shihab Nye
Valentine for Ernest Mann Naomi Shihab Nye
The Keys to Love Robert M. Millay
If I Ever Did Thomas R. Dudley
The Times They Are a Changing Bob Dylan
Still Crazy After All These Years Paul Simon
The Day the Saucers Came Neil Gaiman
The Candle Hat Billy Collins
Death of the Hat Billy Collins
In Praise of Libraries Various Library Fans
On a Winger Night Kathleen Scheibel
On the Sunny Side of the Street J. McHugh/D. Fields
The Green Grass All Around W. Jerome/H. Von Tilzer with additional lyrics by Setlow/Schuhmann