Romaine pushes for regional approach to solid waste

Brookhaven NAACP fears Black and brown communities will be left out of the process


Suffolk County executive Ed Romaine said he will hold a meeting of officials of Suffolk County’s 10 towns in April to forge a regional approach to handling the disposal of the county’s solid waste.

With the Town of Brookhaven landfill slated to stop accepting construction and demolition debris at the end of this year and halt accepting incinerated household waste by late 2027 or early 2028, Romaine said Long Island “now more than ever” needs a regional approach to waste disposal and increased recycling of glass, electronics, and other materials.

Romaine, the former Brookhaven Town supervisor, made his remarks on March 13 at Stony Brook University, where he spoke at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences’ annual Larry Swanson Long Island Environmental Consortium.

If Suffolk’s 10 towns develop a coordinated approach to handling solid-waste disposal and recycling, “we could stand up to the DEC,” Romaine said.

“I don’t want DEC [the state Department of Environmental Conservation] setting the agenda” for Long Island towns, he said. “They’re regulators, not innovators.”

But Brookhaven NAACP president Dr. Georgette Grier-Key said she fears Romaine’s attempt to coordinate solid-waste disposal efforts will leave residents of Black and brown communities out of the process and result in more facilities dumped in their neighborhoods, including North Bellport.

The town landfill is in North Bellport. Winters Bros. wants to build a waste transfer station in nearby Yaphank, and a developer wants to build a complex of four warehouses just east of Station Road in North Bellport and another off Station Road in Yaphank.

“We’ve just been shut out,” Grier-Key said. “It’s as if we don’t even matter. Our lives don’t matter.”

“Why is it always in the Black community that we have these landfills?” she asked. “Why can’t we be afforded the liberty everybody else has?”

The Brookhaven landfill’s impending closure means much of Long Island’s waste will need to be transported off Long Island, speakers at the conference said.

The landfill handles 750,000 tons of construction and demolition debris annually, said Martin Bellew, commissioner of the department of environmental control for the Town of Islip and one of the speakers.

If the waste can’t be processed on Long Island, it needs to be moved by rail, Romaine said.

Winters Bros. wants to create a transfer station in Yaphank, near the Brookhaven landfill, to move the waste off Long Island by train, a plan Romaine called “controversial.”

The Brookhaven NAACP, which opposes the project, said the company shouldn’t be allowed to override local zoning laws and that the community should have input into whether the project should be approved.


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