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Babylon Town wants to use ash from landfill to boost capacity at facility and save $1.3M

Tom Vetri, deputy commissioner of environmental control for

Tom Vetri, deputy commissioner of environmental control for Babylon Town, believes the ash created by incinerating garbage at its Covanta-run landfill can be used to build cell walls that hold the ash. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Town of Babylon is getting creative with its trash and hoping to save money in the process.

With finite space at its ash landfill in West Babylon, town officials are hoping to use the ash to expand the facility, both increasing capacity and decreasing inventory at the same time.

Tom Vetri, deputy commissioner of environmental control for Babylon Town, believes the ash created by incinerating garbage at its Covanta-run landfill can be used to build the same cell walls that hold the ash.

Using 65,000 cubic yards of ash to build soil walls and vertically expand cell seven would both increase capacity and free up space for more ash, thereby extending the life of the landfill, Vetri said.

That would keep the facility in use longer than the 10 years officials estimate before it’s full.

The town has a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation permit to vertically expand cell seven to create more ash storage space, and without having to purchase recycled concrete aggregate to build the walls, the town would save $1.3 million, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said.

Under a new Covanta service agreement, Covanta pays the town for the ash, and by freeing up 65,000 cubic yards of space, the town could take in $4 million worth of additional ash, Bonner said.

Vetri hopes to convince the DEC that using hardened ash — which he called “stronger than steel” — to construct the soil walls in cell seven is a win-win.

“I believe that we will prove that we can do this,” he said.

Vetri is spearheading the effort, beginning with preliminary ash testing that New Hyde Park-based Kosuri Engineering and Consulting PC recently completed.

Vetri is also working with Florida-based consultant Kenneth W. Cargill, a geotechnical engineer working in the waste industry for decades, including with the town since the 1990s.

Cargill recently visited the ash landfill and took more samples to confirm the moisture density and strength of the material. The town will put out a bid for additional testing on the physical and chemical properties of the ash, Bonner said.

Both Vetri and Cargill think the town will make industry history if the DEC approves the use.

“I do not know of any previous experience in building a reinforced soil wall using ash from the waste pile,” Cargill said.

It would also be a first for New York State. The DEC has never received an application for this type of use, a spokesman confirmed.

Cargill is working with Vetri to put together a plan and get DEC approval.

“As we create more and more waste, we need more and more places to put it,” Cargill said. “This new idea allows us to conserve space in the landfill.”

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