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Report: Stench emitted at Yaphank compost facility

A recent Suffolk County health department report accuses a Yaphank compost facility of emitting foul odors at a level almost four times greater than the state guideline, prompting town and county legislators to demand the state bring the site into compliance.

Inspectors detected excessive odors at Long Island Compost, located off Horseblock Road, nearly 78 percent of the time during a 27-day study, states the report, which was released this week. State guidelines say more than 20 percent constitutes a "nuisance."

The report also accuses Long Island Compost of emitting excessive particulate matter - tiny particles linked to respiratory disease. County Legis. Kate Browning (WF-Shirley) Wednesday called on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to issue citations and fines, while Brookhaven Councilwoman Connie Kepert called the site "a real threat to the quality of life."

The firm, which uses the 62-acre site to process raw materials for composting, plans to implement a misting system to address odor and dust issues, according to a statement from president Charles Vigliotti. Vigliotti said the legislators were "highly irresponsible" for citing the report before he had a chance to review it.

Donna Cioffi, a resident who lives next to the site, said she just wants the odors gone.

"We'd like to enjoy our backyards once again . . . We need the DEC to enforce their laws," Cioffi said in a statement.

DEC regional director Peter Scully released a statement saying the county report "raised new and significant questions regarding composting activities and the potential for impacts to public health," and that the DEC "will work with the [county] health department to clarify any health risks."

Scully added that Long Island Compost has been cited for odor and emissions violations in the past. The firm was fined $22,500 in 2007 and received a notice of violation last month, state records show.

Long Island Compost paid $7,500 in 2007 and the rest of its fine was suspended, Scully said.

The firm's website says the company is Long Island's "leading provider of organic materials, services and products" and "recycles hundreds of thousands of tons of leaves, grass clippings and other landscape-related materials" each year.

The county health report states that the DEC is responsible for enforcing state laws at compost facilities. The report says "all air quality complaints received from residents should be taken seriously and investigated."

The compost facility's odors are noticeable within a quarter-mile radius around the site, encompassing several dozen homes, a town source said.

Browning said she has received dozens of complaints about the facility over the past five years. "Sometimes you come down there and the smell is disgusting. It's a really putrid horrible smell," she said.

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