LI garbage barge of ’87 still influences solid waste disposal

In a News 12/Newsday special report, has been revealed that Long Island is still transporting hundreds of tons of garbage off Long Island by truck to landfills in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

In a News 12/Newsday special report, has been revealed that Long Island is still transporting hundreds of tons of garbage off Long Island by truck to landfills in Pennsylvania and Ohio. (3/22/17)

WOODBURY - This week marks 30 years since the Long Island garbage barge put a spotlight on the problem of solid waste disposal.

The barge set sail from Islip in 1987 in an effort to dump 3,100 tons of trash to a dump in North Carolina. When that plan backfired, the vessel searched for two months for a place to dump its garbage. Eventually, a deal was negotiated to have the garbage burned in Brooklyn with its ash buried in an Islip Town landfill.

Three decades later, solid waste experts say the area could soon be in trouble again like it was in 1987.

In a News 12/Newsday special report, it was revealed that Long Island is still transporting hundreds of tons of garbage off Long Island by truck to landfills in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

A Stony Brook University study revealed that the national average of garbage output per person per day is 4.5 pounds. On Long Island, it is nearly double – 7 pounds per person, per day.

According to a Newsday study, 50 percent of solid waste garbage is burned in waste-to-energy plants, 35 percent is recycled, and the remaining 15 percent is trucked to out-of-state landfills.

Environmental activist Maureen Murphy says we have to do better.

"We need solutions, and that includes increasing recycling. It includes recycling food waste…we need to move from the philosophy of seeing our garbage as a waste product, and looking at it as a raw material," says Murphy.

Experts say there's an urgent need for action. In eight years, Brookhaven Town will close its landfill, which is used to bury ash from incinerators. Supervisor Ed Romaine insists towns shouldn't have to solve Long Island's garbage crisis by themselves.

"We need to start moving now on a regional plan on how to handle solid waste not only here in Brookhaven, but throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties," says Romaine.

The state Energy Development Authority says it's working on a regional plan, but it requires cooperation from all Long Island towns and Albany.

 

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