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Closing Brookhaven landfill will cost $34 million, report says

By the time the landfill closes, the town expects to have about $22 million in a reserve fund to pay those costs, Brookhaven Chief of Operations Matt Miner said.

A plow is used to move waste at

A plow is used to move waste at the Brookhaven Town landfill in 2015. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Closing and maintaining the Brookhaven landfill will cost about $34 million over 30 years after the facility is shuttered, state officials said in a report issued last week.

The dump, on Horseblock Road in Brookhaven hamlet, topped the state's list of post-closure costs for 80 landfills operated by towns, cities, villages and counties. Those landfills collectively require $298 million to pay for ongoing maintenance after they close, according to the report prepared by the office of state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

The Brookhaven landfill, which is expected to close in 2024 when it runs out of capacity, will require annual monitoring and cleanup to prevent contaminants and leachate from seeping into groundwater, the report said.

Brookhaven officials' estimate of post-closure costs is slightly higher than the state's — $35 million. The town several years ago established a reserve fund to pay those costs. 

The town expects to have about $12 million in the fund by the end of this year, and $22 million by the time the landfill closes, Brookhaven Chief of Operations Matt Miner said.

“By establishing the reserve fund, the town is very well positioned to deal with those obligations once the landfill closes in 2024,” Miner said.

The fund includes fees paid by contractors and haulers when they dump construction debris and other trash at the landfill. The fee, currently $1.50 per ton, will increase to $2 per ton on Jan. 1, Miner said.

The town also adds a portion of town surplus funds to the reserve. Miner said he expects $1 million from surplus funds to be added to the fund by the end of the year.

Besides Brookhaven, Long Island has three other municipal landfills operated by the towns of Babylon and Islip, and Port Jefferson Village. All are expected to close over the next 13 years. A second landfill in Babylon closed in 2016. 

The comptroller's report did not list post-closure costs for those facilities. 

In addition to construction and demolition debris, the Brookhaven landfill stores ash from incinerators.

Post-closure landfill maintenance includes capping sections, or cells, as they become full to prevent waste from being blown away and to keep contaminants out of drinking water supplies. Leachate, or liquids that drain from the landfill, must be collected and disposed, and landfill cover must be maintained, state officials said.

Miner said 75 percent of the Brookhaven landfill has been capped with synthetic lining and soil. The town also has installed devices to prevent leaks of gases from the landfill, he said.

“As we cap, the leachate will diminish,” Miner said. “A lot of the capital construction costs are taken care of already.”

Two dozen people, including Bellport residents and teachers and parents from Frank P. Long Intermediate School in Bellport, filed a notice of claim earlier this year alleging Brookhaven officials had not done enough to protect them from odors and emissions that they said came from the landfill.

Town officials have said that federal and state tests determined that air quality around the landfill was safe. 

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