Environmental groups issue plan for sewage plant

After superstorm Sandy overwhelmed the Bay Park sewage plant and sent foul waters into communities and the ocean, there is a move to rebuild it. Environmental activists agree. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser ( Dec. 19, 2012)

After superstorm Sandy overwhelmed the Bay Park sewage plant and sent foul waters into communities and the ocean, there is a move to rebuild it. Environmental activists agree. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser ( Dec. 19, 2012)

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Environmental groups Wednesday called for public review of wastewater discharge from the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, modernized equipment, higher levels of treatment and outside contractors to operate the facility.

"We need something better . . . that will bring us cleaner, safer bays and public health protection," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

When superstorm Sandy hit Oct. 29, the plant flooded and lost power, causing raw sewage to be sent into streets, homes and waterways. For nearly a month, solids were removed and the sewage chlorinated but it was not fully treated before being released into Reynolds Channel.

The channel, a 9-mile waterway north of Long Beach, is part of Western Bays and the South Shore Estuary reserve.

"This is a turning point in the history of Long Island's waters so we have to make the most of this situation here," said Rob Weltner, president of Freeport-based Operation Stop Polluting Littering and Save Harbors, or Splash.

The groups' 10-point plan calls for installing equipment that allows the public to monitor discharge amounts online, quarterly status reports and a public oversight committee, said Scott Bochner, co-founder of Sludge Stoppers Task Force.

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It also urges the county to seek private contractors to look at ways to treat wastewater so that it can be reused.

"We should be looking at the water as a raw material instead of a waste product," Esposito said.

Nassau County agrees with the recommendations in the plan and "has been working to accomplish many of these goals," Department of Public Works spokesman Mike Martino said. The county still wants to privatize plant operations, even though an earlier plan was rejected by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which oversees the county finances.

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