June 28, 2006

Solution Sought For Tainted Sand

Cold patch that can be used on the town's roadways may be a viable solution. That's what Steven Gordon of American Site Restoration told the Riverhead Town Board last week.

The town board is looking to unload nearly 10,000 cubic yards of oil-tainted sand that was unexpectedly unearthed at the town's Youngs Avenue Landfill. So far, costs have been prohibitive: To ship the material out, the town could stand to lose between $670,000 to $1 million, said Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale, who hopes to keep taxes at bay.

Upon learning of the town's dilemma, Gordon, a town resident for nearly 30 years, suggested that the town recycle the tarnished sand, which the town believes was contaminated by Northville oil.

Using a cold process, Gordon says his company can produce cold patch that the town could use on its roadways for years to come.

"This material has no shelf life," said Gordon.

Gordon said his company, in conjunction with the Massachusetts-based United Retek Corp., could whittle the material in less than four weeks at a cost of $660,000. And his company already has the necessary permits from the State Department of Environmental Conservation to do the work.

Once the oil-tainted sand is transformed, said Gordon, it will be worth $1.6 million.

While the idea looks good on paper, Cardinale said the town board is leery of another asphalt plant.

In November, the town shut down a temporary asphalt plant that was operating at the landfill. The plant was part of the reclamation project at the landfill. It was intended that the asphalt plant, run by GL Paving Products, would recycle all the sand unearthed at the site. The approximate 250 thousand pounds of sand was used to disguise all the landfill material. However, since the asphalt plant has been operational, Calverton residents complained of a foul odor.

Bill Lyons, owner of GL Paving Products, said he met all DEC standards and that the smell was not coming from his plant, but rather from the unearthing of landfill. The town, however, opted to shut down the operation.

Understanding the history, Gordon explained that his company's cold process would not be a nuisance to nearby residents. Because the contaminated sand would not be heated, no smell would emanate.

"That is the beauty of the operation," said Gordon. "We don't have to heat anything."

Ridding the landfill of the contaminated sand is only a small part of a larger issue at the landfill.

The reclamation project, which commenced over a decade ago after a court ordered the town to shut down its landfill, was intended to clean up the landfill by removing all the garbage at a cost of $35 million. Once reclaimed, the town planned to use the property for a park or possibly sell it off for development.

The project, however, hit a roadblock recently when it was learned that the cost for reclamation would be substantially more than originally estimated. The reason: there appears to be more garbage than was first anticipated.

The town board is investigating the situation and by next Wednesday both an audit and a report rendered by an outside engineering firm will provide answers. Included in the information the town hopes to gather is how much garbage remains at the landfill site and why it was underestimated in 1994 when Young and Young engineers first made an estimate. A rundown of the town's options, and if the town has gotten its money's worth so far is also slated to be examined.

Cardinale has stated that the town will either have to cap the landfill or continue reclamation efforts. It all depends on cost, he noted.

The town board plans to continue its discussion with Gordon next week along with the town's engineer and highway superintendent to learn more about the usefulness of the cold patch on town roads.

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