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Impact of burning Sandy debris to be tracked

Superstorm Sandy debris being loaded into a barge

Superstorm Sandy debris being loaded into a barge that will take it to a disposal site upstate (Dec. 6, 2012) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Suffolk County will monitor air quality from the burning of post-superstorm Sandy debris at the landfill in Yaphank, according to Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine.

After the storm, the town had requested three air curtain fire boxes from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to help burn vegetative debris, Romaine said in a release yesterday.

The DEC agreed to allow the town to use these fire boxes until Feb. 12 to help get rid of the storm debris, and the town also received a fourth fire box for use until Dec. 5. The town has burned about 5,000 cubic yards of debris every day since receiving the fire boxes, but residents were concerned about the effect on air quality, Romaine said.

In a letter last week, Romaine asked the county to monitor the air quality to assure residents that the use of the fire boxes “does not pose a health risk to those in the surrounding communities.”

In response, Joseph Williams, the county’s commissioner of Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, wrote back that the county “has already begun facilitating the placement of monitoring equipment,” and promised that the landfill will be monitored 24 hours a day, and that collected data will be reviewed by experts and made available to the town.

Romaine said the town’s Department of Waste Management will monitor the county’s testing.

“While trying to process mountains of debris is important, my first concern remains the health of the residents of Brookhaven Town,” Romaine said.


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