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Brookhaven to spend $3.3M to reduce odors at town landfill

Residents have complained of smells coming from the

Residents have complained of smells coming from the Brookhaven landfill. Credit: Jessica Rotkiewicz

Brookhaven will borrow about $3.3 million next year to fund efforts aimed at reducing noxious odors and removing leachate from the town landfill.

Officials said the amount is about the same total the town has spent annually in recent years to install new wells and pumps and clean out leachate lines at the landfill on Horseblock Road in Brookhaven hamlet.

Officials said the spending is not directly related to orders from state environmental officials in September to immediately address concerns about odors emanating from the 192-acre facility. That order stemmed from a state study that found the landfill had failed 10 of 11 state odor inspections during a two-week period last December.

Brookhaven Director of Operations Matt Miner said the bonds approved last week will fund projects, such as installing gas extraction wells and replacing pumps and meters. The borrowing also will fund efforts to clean pipes that remove leachate — polluted water that collects and percolates inside the landfill.

The town board voted 7-0 on Thursday to approve the borrowing. 

Miner said the planned work is “consistent” with state mandates to reduce odors at the landfill, “but it’s not necessarily something new.”

“I believe we’re in full compliance" with DEC regulations, Miner said. "We continue to work every day. We’re working to minimize any impact on the community.”

In a statement Monday, state Department of Environmental Conservation officials said the town has stepped up efforts to monitor and correct odor emissions since September, when the DEC threatened up to $100,000 in fines if Brookhaven failed to comply with state odor regulations.

The DEC said Monday the fines were waived because the town complied with the order. The town paid $150,000 to an environmental benefits program as part of the order, the DEC said.

Among the improvements implemented since September are air monitoring earlier and later each day and the installation of "incident-reporting and tracking software" to help landfill staff better monitor smells emanating from the facility, the DEC said. 

Miner said the spending approved last week is a "standard" part of efforts to maintain the 45-year-old landfill, which accepts only construction and demolition debris from contractors and incinerated trash from waste-to-energy plants. Town officials plan to close the dump in 2024, when it is expected to reach capacity.

“As the landfill gets built out, there’s horizontal gas collection wells that are installed,” Miner said. “It’s something that we’ve always done and we just continue to do.”

The DEC statement said Brookhaven has "conducted numerous corrective measures" since September, such as evaluating the landfill during peak odor-causing conditions, such as hot weather, to "identify any new or previously unidentified landfill odor sources." The town also is evaluating new technologies for monitoring odors and taking additional steps to treat leachate, cover the landfill, and collect and treat gas emissions, DEC officials said.

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