Brookhaven NY (9/25/2019) – New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that the town of Brookhaven has been ordered to take immediate steps to address landfill-related odor issues that affected communities near the Yaphank facility. Under the terms of a new consent order with DEC and a DEC-mandated Corrective Action Plan, the town is required to evaluate odor-producing conditions and take aggressive corrective measures that will prevent odors in the future, enhance community air monitoring, further improve landfill gas collection. The order includes a $250,000 total penalty, including $150,000 that will be invested in an Environmental Benefit Project. In addition, DEC announced it will host a public availability session on Oct. 10 at the Medford Fire District. During the session, community residents will have the opportunity to speak with DEC experts about the new odor reduction measures.
“The enforcement action announced today is just the most recent of many actions DEC has taken to prevent the return of odor issues that have affected the quality of life the communities surrounding the Brookhaven Landfill,” said Commissioner Seggos. “DEC is working closely with the town of Brookhaven to address the odors and we will continue to do so in order to protect public health and the environment by taking enforcement against facilities that violate our stringent permit requirements.”
The Order on Consent stems from DEC’s rigorous monitoring efforts at the landfill, as well as the extensive investigation of, and response to, off-site odor complaints. Violations in the order include odor exceedances dating back to 2016, including a two-week period of persistent odor complaints in December 2018. Expert staff from DEC’s Division of Air Resources and Division of Materials Management conducted off-site investigations and documented Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) odors around the site that varied in intensity during numerous field visits. H2S can cause odors that unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property.
The enforcement action is the latest in a series of engineering and operational changes DEC is requiring the town of Brookhaven to undertake to comply with DEC solid waste and odor control regulations. In June 2017, DEC installed continuous H2S monitors at two off-site locations to evaluate the frequency and duration of odor episodes associated with H2S releases, to assess the effectiveness of corrective actions undertaken by the town, and to determine the need for additional corrective measures. The consent order reflects the results of that data collection by including specific odor reduction requirements, including:
An enhanced air monitoring plan, including intensified testing at the active Cell 6 fill area and off-site;
Conceptual design details for the replacement of the existing flare;
Conceptual design details for updating the landfill gas collection and control system;
An alternative daily cover material (ADCM) reduction plan; and
An enhanced ADCM testing and screening protocol, including strict sulfur parameter guidelines.
The order requires to town to undertake several actions, including: delivering to DEC an interim status report of the various corrective measures implemented and a breakdown of expenditures from an earlier Corrective Action Plan; completing an expedited evaluation of the landfill during peak odor-producing conditions to identify any new or previously unidentified landfill odor sources; developing enhanced operating and landfill cover protocols to reduce the amount of exposed land related to landfill capping; and submitting design details to enhance leachate collection operations.
All items in the DEC-mandated Corrective Action Plan must include estimated completion dates where applicable. The order also requires the town to continue compensating DEC for enhanced odor monitoring efforts and, upon DEC request, provide additional funding for an Environmental Monitoring Fund. The order requires the town to fund a $150,000 environmental benefit project, in addition to a $100,000 penalty if the town does not comply with DEC’s conditions. Prior to the signing of this Order, the Town estimates that over $17 million has gone towards capital improvements to comply with DEC’s stringent solid waste and odor management requirements.
DEC will host an availability session on Oct. 10, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Medford Fire District, 171 Oregon Avenue, Medford, NY 11763. During the session, community members will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one with DEC project managers and other DEC experts. Community members are welcome to attend at any time during the three-hour session.
DEC strongly encourages any resident impacted by odors from the Brookhaven Landfill or other facilities to contact DEC’s dedicated Odor Hotline at (631) 444-0380. The Odor Hotline is operational around the clock, seven days a week. The Odor Hotline was established by DEC to provide citizens with a single, accurate record of complaints to assist in assessing odor impacts on Long Island communities. DEC has also established a Brookhaven Air Quality Improvement webpage for citizens to learn more about ongoing work activities at Brookhaven Landfill.