Tanks currently at the town of Babylon's waste facility in...

Tanks currently at the town of Babylon's waste facility in West Babylon will be replaced with stronger, glass-lined tanks to hold the facility's runoff. Credit: Morgan Campbell

The Town of Babylon is spending nearly $3.5 million to update containers that store runoff from its waste facility.

The aboveground tanks are used to hold leachate, or runoff, from the town’s ashfill in West Babylon. The ash results from Covanta’s waste-to-energy incinerator where garbage is burned.

Since 2009, Babylon has been using powder-coated tanks to store excess leachate after the town reaches its daily maximum amount that can be pumped to the Southwest Sewer District for treatment. The tanks are particularly important to hold spikes in leachate during strong rainstorms, said Tom Vetri, commissioner of environmental control for the town.

Leachate is corrosive, so the tanks have reached the point where they need to be replaced, Vetri said.

“We have had a few small leaks which we’ve been able to deal with,” using patches, he said.

The tanks are located within a containment dike so any leaked runoff gets pumped back into the tank, Vetri said.

The two, 430,000 gallon tanks being purchased from G & M Earth Moving Inc. of Holbrook use a more modern technology of glass and metal-fused lining, he said. Because of that extra protection, Vetri said he expects the tanks to last much longer.

“It can’t peel off or be scratched so easily,” he said. “I think these glass tanks are head and shoulders above the rest.”

Rich Thompson, who has 35 years of landfill management experience across the country, said glass-lined tanks are more durable and are being used beyond the waste industry.

“It’s just a much more improved technology in terms of how to store liquid in tanks,” he said.

Thompson, who is a managing partner at the waste and recycling consulting firm TEC LLC. in Arizona, said leachate “isn’t necessarily toxic” but can contaminate drinking water so it’s important to be confident in the integrity of runoff containers.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, applauded the town for investing in its ashfill infrastructure, which will need to be maintained for decades.

“This is the kind of expense we want to incur,” she said. “The idea of spending money to prevent an accident, rather than pay to clean one up is totally appropriate.”

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