New Brookhaven Supervisor Dan Panico said the town landfill will stay open at least two years later than previously expected. NewsdayTV's Steve Langford reports. Credit: Anthony Florio; File Footage

The Brookhaven landfill will remain open at least until 2027, two years later than previously expected, giving town officials additional time to find different ways of disposing of and recycling ash from incineration plants, Supervisor Dan Panico told Newsday days before he was sworn into his new post.

In an interview Friday, Panico said the town, state officials and waste industry leaders need more time to prepare for the landfill's closure, adding that shutting down the 192-acre facility on Horseblock Road would have a "cataclysmic effect" on the local economy if it is done prematurely.

Town officials had said previously the landfill could close as soon as 2025.

The town will keep its current plan to start shutting down the dump at the end of this year, when it will stop accepting construction and demolition debris, Panico said. Construction waste constitutes more than 60% of the 1.1 million tons of waste buried annually at the landfill, according to public documents. The remaining 40% is ash.

Panico, who on Monday was sworn into his first four-year term after more than a decade as a town councilman, said the change will allow time for New Jersey-based Covanta to find alternate locations to dispose of ash. Covanta sends much of the ash generated by its four Long Island incinerators to the Brookhaven and Babylon town landfills. 

"We will take ash through the year 2027 ... into 2028, potentially," Panico said during an interview in his Town Hall office. 

"I think at times when people talk about abruptly closing the landfill ... it's not so easy," Panico said, citing the costs of permanently shutting down the facility.

"Nothing has changed per se," he said, referring to the overall landfill closure plan. "It is a responsible and pragmatic approach to closing the landfill."

Covanta spokeswoman Nicolle K. Robles said in an email the company is reviewing "options like alternate disposal and enhanced ash processing, including a short extension of the Brookhaven contract" to prepare for the landfill's closure.

Town officials have stated previously the landfill would close when it runs out of capacity, noting it's difficult to determine when that will occur because of fluctuations in trash deposits.

Panico’s predecessor, Edward Romaine, now Suffolk County executive, said last March at a Stony Brook University waste management symposium the landfill would close in 2025 or 2026.

Before leaving the Brookhaven post, Romaine said last fall that town budget officials projected a $4 million drop in revenue from landfill tipping fees this year. Revenues were forecast to total about $55 million, about a 7% drop compared with the $59 million it was expected to make. Tipping fees are paid by construction companies and other landfill users.

Panico said Friday the town would seek an extension of the landfill's operating permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The current permit, issued on July 12, 2021, will expire on July 11, 2026, DEC officials said Monday, adding Brookhaven has not sought an extension.

The landfill has been cited in recent years by federal and state authorities for violations of odor and emissions control regulations.

Community advocates have also called on the state attorney general to launch a probe into ash dumped at the Brookhaven landfill, citing a Newsday investigation that found Covanta couldn’t be sure ash it was dumping there wasn't hazardous.

Panico, citing studies by Stony Brook University and others, said research has shown that ash can be turned into building materials such as bricks. Covanta has a pilot program looking at the technology, the company has said.

Panico said he supports expanded use of railroads to take trash off Long Island, saying it would reduce pressure on Long Island highway traffic. 

There are at least two major proposed rail-based waste transfer station proposals in Yaphank and Kings Park.

Landfill opponents said Monday they were disappointed with Panico's announcement.

“As far as we’re concerned, it shouldn’t have to wait to 2027. It should be closed now,” said Brookhaven NAACP president Georgette Grier-Key, who lives near the landfill in Bellport. “The only action I see is continued circumventing of the community.”

Monique Fitzgerald, member of Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group, which has sought to close the landfill, said Panico's comments were "troubling," adding previous town statements on the matter had been "ambiguous."

"We are doing our best to get the town of Brookhaven to nail down and stick to closing the landfill in 2024, which is upon us,” Fitzgerald said. “Here we are in 2024 and they are ... pushing it further down the road.”

The Brookhaven landfill will remain open at least until 2027, two years later than previously expected, giving town officials additional time to find different ways of disposing of and recycling ash from incineration plants, Supervisor Dan Panico told Newsday days before he was sworn into his new post.

In an interview Friday, Panico said the town, state officials and waste industry leaders need more time to prepare for the landfill's closure, adding that shutting down the 192-acre facility on Horseblock Road would have a "cataclysmic effect" on the local economy if it is done prematurely.

Town officials had said previously the landfill could close as soon as 2025.

The town will keep its current plan to start shutting down the dump at the end of this year, when it will stop accepting construction and demolition debris, Panico said. Construction waste constitutes more than 60% of the 1.1 million tons of waste buried annually at the landfill, according to public documents. The remaining 40% is ash.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Brookhaven plans to close the town landfill in 2027, or 2028, to provide more time to develop alternate ways to dispose of and recycle ash.
  • Town officials previously had said the 192-acre dump would close in 2025 or 2026.
  • New Town Supervisor Dan Panico said the town would seek an extension of the landfill’s state permit, which expires in July 2026.

Panico, who on Monday was sworn into his first four-year term after more than a decade as a town councilman, said the change will allow time for New Jersey-based Covanta to find alternate locations to dispose of ash. Covanta sends much of the ash generated by its four Long Island incinerators to the Brookhaven and Babylon town landfills. 

"We will take ash through the year 2027 ... into 2028, potentially," Panico said during an interview in his Town Hall office. 

"I think at times when people talk about abruptly closing the landfill ... it's not so easy," Panico said, citing the costs of permanently shutting down the facility.

"Nothing has changed per se," he said, referring to the overall landfill closure plan. "It is a responsible and pragmatic approach to closing the landfill."

Covanta spokeswoman Nicolle K. Robles said in an email the company is reviewing "options like alternate disposal and enhanced ash processing, including a short extension of the Brookhaven contract" to prepare for the landfill's closure.

Town officials have stated previously the landfill would close when it runs out of capacity, noting it's difficult to determine when that will occur because of fluctuations in trash deposits.

Panico’s predecessor, Edward Romaine, now Suffolk County executive, said last March at a Stony Brook University waste management symposium the landfill would close in 2025 or 2026.

Before leaving the Brookhaven post, Romaine said last fall that town budget officials projected a $4 million drop in revenue from landfill tipping fees this year. Revenues were forecast to total about $55 million, about a 7% drop compared with the $59 million it was expected to make. Tipping fees are paid by construction companies and other landfill users.

Panico said Friday the town would seek an extension of the landfill's operating permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The current permit, issued on July 12, 2021, will expire on July 11, 2026, DEC officials said Monday, adding Brookhaven has not sought an extension.

The landfill has been cited in recent years by federal and state authorities for violations of odor and emissions control regulations.

Community advocates have also called on the state attorney general to launch a probe into ash dumped at the Brookhaven landfill, citing a Newsday investigation that found Covanta couldn’t be sure ash it was dumping there wasn't hazardous.

Panico, citing studies by Stony Brook University and others, said research has shown that ash can be turned into building materials such as bricks. Covanta has a pilot program looking at the technology, the company has said.

Panico said he supports expanded use of railroads to take trash off Long Island, saying it would reduce pressure on Long Island highway traffic. 

There are at least two major proposed rail-based waste transfer station proposals in Yaphank and Kings Park.

Landfill opponents said Monday they were disappointed with Panico's announcement.

“As far as we’re concerned, it shouldn’t have to wait to 2027. It should be closed now,” said Brookhaven NAACP president Georgette Grier-Key, who lives near the landfill in Bellport. “The only action I see is continued circumventing of the community.”

Monique Fitzgerald, member of Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remediation Group, which has sought to close the landfill, said Panico's comments were "troubling," adding previous town statements on the matter had been "ambiguous."

"We are doing our best to get the town of Brookhaven to nail down and stick to closing the landfill in 2024, which is upon us,” Fitzgerald said. “Here we are in 2024 and they are ... pushing it further down the road.”

Suffolk conflict of interest … Carrabba's closing … Feral cat fight  Credit: Newsday

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Suffolk conflict of interest … Carrabba's closing … Feral cat fight  Credit: Newsday

Updated 15 minutes ago Mini bus crash ... Suffolk conflict of interest ... Suozzi back on the Hill ... Students learn hip hop history 

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