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Smithtown certifies financial ability to maintain landfill

The Town of Smithtown can afford costs necessary to manage its closed landfill, according to a report the town plans to file with the state Department of Environmental Conservation as part of an annual assessment.

Smithtown town board members voted unanimously, 5-0, Tuesday to approve a letter by Supervisor Patrick Vecchio to the DEC with a corresponding report by Ronkonkoma-based consultant FPM Group on the town's financial solvency.

Smithtown environmental protection director, Russell Barnett, said that under state and federal law, landfill owners must prove every year to a regulatory authority -- the state DEC -- that they have "the financial wherewithal" to deal with issues that arise in caring for a landfill in the 30 years following its closure.

Issues may include pumping out liquids generated by decomposition of waste inside the landfill and methane gas -- both of which must be treated and destroyed, respectively, to protect the environment, Barnett said.

"The fact that the landfill no longer accepts waste doesn't mean that it's free of environmental or potential environmental issues," he said.

DEC officials weren't immediately available for comment.

As of 2013, Smithtown has 28 years remaining to report annually on the roughly 22-acre landfill, said Barnett.

The landfill was officially capped in 2011 and stopped accepting waste around 1996, he said, adding that the town has operated five landfills. The other four predate the regulations, Barnett added.

In its report, FPM Group projected Smithtown will spend $8.6 million over the next 28 years to maintain the landfill. The report demonstrated Smithtown's financial solvency by citing that the town was not in default on outstanding bonds, has not operated at a deficit equal to 5 percent or more of its total revenue and noted the town's Aa1 rating from Moody's credit-rating agency.

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