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Babylon, Southold towns agree to extend garbage hauling deal for 2 more years

Babylon Town must provide a minimum of 225,000

Babylon Town must provide a minimum of 225,000 tons of waste to Covanta each year, said town spokesman Kevin Bonner. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Babylon is extending the town’s agreement to haul and dispose of Southold Town’s garbage for another two years.

The intermunicipal solid waste agreement was first signed in July 2015, with Southold paying Babylon to cart waste to its waste-to-energy facility in West Babylon. The facility, operated by Covanta, turns waste into ash, a process that creates electrical power that is sold to PSEG Long Island. In 2018, the town received $7.5 million in revenue from that power.

Southold, which stopped using its garbage dump in 1993, was again in the process of bidding out for its waste to be carted out of state when Babylon made its own offer, said Jim Bunchuck, Southold’s solid waste coordinator.

“It’s definitely saved our town money and it’s made it predictable, so that we don’t have to worry about changes in costs,” Bunchuck said.

In 2014, the last year of trucking waste out of state, Southold paid $87.50 per ton, Bunchuck said. In the first year of the agreement with Babylon, Southold paid $80 per ton and currently pays $85.40 per ton, he said. In 2018, Southold had about 10,100 tons of waste, and so far this year about 8,200 tons of waste have been brought to Covanta, said Babylon spokesman Kevin Bonner.

Babylon must provide a minimum of 225,000 tons of waste to Covanta each year, Bonner said, and supplements the town’s annual 180,000 tons with unpredictable “spot market” waste from carters who have contracts with other municipalities. The agreement with Southold allows for predictability in waste received, he said. Before Southold, the town had not had intermunicipal agreements with other towns for garbage disposal in a decade, Bonner said, preferring to prioritize the town’s waste needs.

The agreement was set to expire at the end of this year, but the town exercised an option for two, one-year extensions.

Bunchuck said new federal regulations for the trucking industry mean costs for hauling garbage out of state will likely become even costlier. Electronic monitoring, which police can access, will note when drivers have exceeded the allowed hours without a break, he said.

“For trucks to come out to Long Island, especially this far, if someone’s held up at the George Washington Bridge for two hours, that counts against their driving time,” he said. As a result, Bunchuck said, some companies are putting two drivers in a truck, increasing costs.

“So we’re very pleased that our waste isn’t being trucked off the Island,” he said.

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