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Babylon Town disputes about a dozen incineration plant bills

Covanta facility at 125 Gleam St. in West

Covanta facility at 125 Gleam St. in West Babylon on Nov. 18, 2017. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Town of Babylon is pursuing about a dozen small billing disputes, some years old, with the company that incinerates its trash, a report shows.

The disputes between the town and Covanta Babylon, a subsidiary of the global waste management corporation Covanta, stem from what town officials say are unexplained expenses, excess charges and withheld billing credits. Babylon’s latest operations monitoring report on the “Waste-to-Energy Facility” in West Babylon, which Covanta owns and operates, lists the challenges over the company’s bills.

“To date, the Town’s objections have failed to produce a satisfactory outcome and it is left with no alternative but to continue to press our case and continue to vehemently object to the Company’s distorted reading of the Service Agreement” between Babylon and the company, the August report states about one dispute.

Doug Jacob, who has several roles in the town’s government, including advising it on waste disposal, described the contentions in an interview as “picayune,” saying they are common for a large contract and that most are resolved during an annual reconciliation process between the town and Covanta, which is headquartered in Morristown, New Jersey.

“This is an awesome company that does a very, very good job,” Jacob said.

But “it’s taxpayer money,” he added. “So we are laser focused on making sure that everything they bill us and every credit they give us is valid and appropriate.”

Covanta spokesman James F. Regan said “these are minor billing issues that can happen over the course of an operating year. We look forward to resolving them with our client.”

Some of Babylon’s concerns include:

  • Tens of thousands of dollars of electricity generated at facility and sold to the Long Island Power Authority in 2008 and 2013 for which the town believes it should be credited.
  • “Unauditable” sales taxes passed on to the town with labels such as “tax” and “000.”
  • A $4,000 alleged overcharge for the shipment of ferrous metal from the incineration site to a scrap yard.
  • 23.34 tons of metal sold to a scrap yard for which the town believes it should be credited.
  • An unexplained $1,035 sales tax charge.

Babylon officials have raised some concerns repeatedly with the company and not received a response, according to the town’s report.

Regan said Covanta has addressed many of the issues in regular meetings with the town and by providing additional documentation, or plans to do so.

“We value our relationship with Babylon,” he said. “There’s absolutely no intention to under-credit the town.”

Covanta’s waste-to-energy facility on Gleam Street, built in the late 1980s, incinerated more than 20,000 tons of trash in August and generated more than 11,000 megawatt hours of energy, most of which was sold to LIPA.

The town paid Covanta $1,717,000 for its services in October, according to a recent invoice, which was offset by $581,000 worth of electricity generated at the facility and sold to LIPA.

The dispute

Babylon’s disputes with Covanta’s billing for operating the town’s waste incinerator include what town officials say are:

  • Missing credits for the sale of metal to a scrap yard and of electricity to LIPA
  • Excessive charges for the transportation of metal to a scrap yard
  • Unexplained charges for sales taxes

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