The East Hampton Town Scavenger Waste Plant on Springs-Fireplace Road is locked up and shuttered until further notice—and now town officials must decide how to make use of the site and facility going forward.
The East Hampton Town Board officially closed the plant on November 30, with the intention of ultimately saving the town $800,000 a year. For now, officials say that the town will save the $459,278 it would have spent on the plant next year. At the same time, a scavenger waste tax paid by property owners will be slowly phased out, saving residents a total of more than $135,000 next year and, ultimately, $500,000 annually.
Arthur Malman of the town’s Budget and Financial Advisory Committee recommended the closure. “The plant is about 30-plus years old and it needed major expensive upgrades to bring it into the modern world. It was also physically in the wrong spot, so if something were to come out of the plant, it would go down into the aquifer,” he said. “And it was not being used to its capacity.”
The scavenger waste plant treated septic waste beginning in 1983, but in 2012 it was downscaled to a transfer station after the State Department of Environmental Conservation charged that the facility exceeded its permit limit for nitrogen 17 times, for suspended solids 56 times, for mercury twice, and for iron twice. An annual average of approximately 22,000 gallons of waste had been coming in daily to be shipped elsewhere.
Local carters would drop off their sewage, which was then shipped to treatment plants farther west. And because the amount of waste the transfer station could hold was capped at 10,000 gallons per day, many waste haulers adjusted by buying larger trucks and transporting sewage to other facilities, like Riverhead Town or Bergen Point, where it costs less to deposit each gallon.
According to Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, the DEC must approve the closure plan before allowing the transition to any other use. He said either the town’s Highway Department or landfill could expand there, or it could be used as a commercial parking spot for local businesses that need to store trucks and equipment. He said another option would be to lease the site out to a hauler, business or individual who could then open a privately owned transfer station.
According to Mr. Malman, Skip Norsic, owner of Emil Norsic & Son Inc., proposed running his own transfer station there, but was discouraged when no other haulers were interested.
“It didn’t seem to work out,” Mr. Malman said. “At the end of the day, the town will have half a million dollars a year to spend on other things.”