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Kings Park compost firm to clean up site

A Kings Park compost firm, ordered last month by the state to stop accepting trees and other debris from superstorm Sandy, is taking steps to clean up its property, a state Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman said.

The company at 1 Lawrence Rd., operated by longtime landowner John Gesuale, has agreed to reduce odor-causing decomposition by changing the way it processes storm-related debris, said DEC spokesman Bill Fonda. Nearby residents had complained of stenches from the site, the DEC said.

By agreeing to the changes, Gesuale will be allowed to resume composting storm debris and avoid thousands of dollars in state fines. Since 2002, Gesuale and his business, Town, County and State Recycling Llc, have paid more than $200,000 in state fines for mining without a permit and illegal solid waste storage at the 4.2-acre site.

Under an agreement with the DEC stemming from his previous violations, Gesuale is allowed to compost up to 10,000 cubic yards of yard waste annually. The agreement called for regular inspections of Gesuale's property.

A Dec. 14 letter from the DEC ordered Gesuale to "cease the acceptance of additional solid waste" because state inspectors found he had illegally buried debris and created "odors that unreasonably impact the area surrounding your facility." The letter, a copy of which the DEC gave to Newsday, noted there were "multiple complaints" about Gesuale's business.

In a brief interview Friday, Gesuale acknowledged taking in debris such as trees and brush from private residents and businesses following the Oct. 29 storm, but he could not estimate how much business was related to Sandy.

The DEC gave Gesuale until this Friday to draft a plan for correcting the problems. The DEC spokesman said Gesuale agreed to place storm debris into new processing areas and "wind rows," long rows of compost that are frequently turned over to reduce anaerobic decomposition.

"The creation of wind rows should enable this material to break down aerobically, which typically does not produce odor issues," Fonda said in a statement.

If he had not agreed to the corrections, Gesuale faced fines up to $7,500 for each violation and up to $1,500 for each day each violation occurred.

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