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For Release: Monday, June 24, 2013

DEC Reaches Agreement with Long Island Compost to Improve Operating Procedures

Longstanding Permit Dispute Resolved with Community Involvement and Support

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the operators of a facility in Yaphank that recycles organic materials have reached an agreement for major changes in operating procedures to reduce impacts to nearby communities, Regional Director Peter Scully announced today. In addition to the community benefits that would be achieved, the proposed agreement would reduce greenhouse gas impacts and strengthen protection of Long Island's sole source groundwater aquifer.

The agreement follows months of mediation between DEC and Long Island Compost Corp., and successful collaboration with the Brookhaven Community Coalition, which is comprised of local community groups and Citizens Campaign for the Environment. The process was triggered by DEC's decision to modify the facility's operating permit to address longstanding dust and odor concerns.

Under the agreement, the facility will refocus its operation to include the first use of an anaerobic digester for recycling of organic materials on Long Island. Anaerobic digestion is an enclosed biological process that converts organic matter into biogas, a renewable energy source and compost.

"This historic agreement is a shining example of what can happen when the community is engaged through an open and transparent outreach process," DEC Region One Director Peter A. Scully said. "Recycling of organic materials is a critically important part of successful efforts to manage solid waste on Long Island, and sound operating practices will ensure that these activities can take place without significant impacts to the community."

The agreement focuses on several items of concern to the community including reducing odor impacts, improving air quality, enhancing dust control measures, monitoring groundwater quality and reducing noise from the facility.

Some of the key aspects of this agreement call for Great Gardens operators to:

  • Composting of organic materials in an anaerobic digester to organic waste into mulch and biogas to generate electricity for site operations and equipment fuel;
  • Construct an enclosed tipping hall with state of the art odor control technology in the new facility;
  • Enclose leaf debagging operations;
  • Reduce the amounts of wood mulch and land-clearing debris stored at the site;
  • Pave high traffic areas of the facility to reduce dust impacts;
  • Convert existing diesel operating equipment to electrical or compressed natural gas motors;
  • Convert the facility vehicle fleet to alternative fuels, resulting in a reduction of 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year and reduced impacts to air quality; and
  • Implement a groundwater monitoring plan to track any changes in groundwater quality at the facility.

The company will be required to submit two applications to DEC: one to modify the existing solid waste permit, and another to authorize the proposed anaerobic digester. Both permit applications will be the subject of a public review process.

As the stipulation agreement is implemented, DEC staff will continue to monitor the site, which is required to abide by state regulations during the transition process.

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