Burning Brentwood transfer station has history of violations
The privately owned solid waste transfer station in Brentwood where a stubborn fire has been burning for days has a history of safety violations that has drawn the ire of town and state officials.
Records show the facility has been cited 11 times since 2007 by Islip Town for code violations, and Brentwood firefighters have responded to 26 reported fires at the site since January 2006.
"It certainly has been a problem for us," said Bill Peterson, first assistant chief of the Brentwood Fire Department.
Eleven days before the most recent fire erupted on Oct. 22, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials visited the site, operated since late 2011 by Island Rail Terminal Inc. The DEC found on Oct. 11 that the facility violated its state permit by holding excessive amounts of waste for too long in its 60-foot-high storage building, state and town officials said.
The state told the company that it wasn't allowed to accept any more solid waste until further notice.
Other violations included leaving the facility unattended. The DEC ordered the company to have an attendant on duty around the clock and to submit a plan for removing existing debris, records show. Island Rail and its attorney, Francis L. Bosco of Patchogue, did not return calls seeking comment.
The company accepts construction and demolition debris, as well as municipal solid waste, for a fee, then ships the debris off Long Island by railroad, town and state officials said.
The town has threatened several times to seek an injunction shutting the facility down, said Islip Deputy Supervisor Eric Hofmeister.
"The facility has had a history of certain violations," he said. "However, the company demonstrated their ability to come into compliance and therefore there was not a need to shut the facility down."
Last May, the DEC demanded that the company stop accepting waste material after finding it was stockpiling too much, according to records.
Bosco, in a written response to the DEC, promised the site would be brought into compliance. That didn't happen, state officials said this week.
Of the 11 town code citations, 10 were issued to the previous operator, Emjay Environmental Recycling, and one was issued to Island Rail, Hofmeister said.
In November 2012, the town cited Island Rail for having an "insufficient fire suppression system" and storing material "beyond the legal limit."
Last month, Island Rail admitted to the violations and paid a $1,000 fine, said town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia.
The cause of the latest fire isn't known. The blaze erupted Oct. 22 and parts of the waste pile were still smoldering Friday morning.
Citing potential health and safety risks, the Islip Town board voted Friday in an emergency meeting to authorize Tully Environmental Inc. to clean up the property if Island Rail doesn't remove all of the debris within 10 days.
Tully Environmental will charge $85 per ton, and there could be as much as 10,000 tons of debris on the property, Birbiglia said. The cost of the cleanup could later be assessed as a tax lien on the property.