Thursday, June 11, 2009

Oceanside Puts Up (With) A Stink

Residents Rally To Protest Stench From Town's Waste Transfer Station

What? Waste being transferred in the Town of Hempstead? A stink being raised other than in Bay Park? Sanitary District 6 dumping grass clippings in Oceanside's backyard?

Tell us, just what is this town coming to?

Oceanside residents joined Nassau County Legislator, Jeff Toback, to make a stink about the stench coming from the nearby waste transfer (who would have it?) station, operated by the Town of Hempstead.

Okay, Toback is a Democrat, running for re-election in a town controlled by the Republicans. We get it. And if you choose to live near a garbage dump, can you really be heard to complain. [Like folks who buy houses off the parkway or turnpike, and then proceed to kvetch about the cars and the noise.] Are they serious?

Still, Oceansiders have a legitimate gripe, and shouldn't have to put up with the smell emanating from the local compost heap. [Albeit a natural smell, most likely part and parcel of Supervisor Kate Murray's "Green Oceanside" initiative.]

Call this one, turnabout as fair play.

Last year, Town officials put on their rally caps and staged a protest in Bay Park, claiming the County was turning the place into a toilet. [Hey, they would know.]

Now, a County official turns the tables on the Town.

All fun and games, until somebody flushes that toilet, and we're all washed out to sea, along with all that raw sewage -- and grass clippings.
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Oceanside residents protest stink from waste station

Darlene Sperico may have to move her backyard party and guests into her home this weekend - not because of the rain, but because of the stench.

Sperico and nearly two dozen neighbors who live near the Town of Hempstead waste transfer station in Oceanside said at a news conference Wednesday that the foul odor precludes their spending time in their backyards - and, when they're indoors, they have to keep windows closed and air conditioners off.

Nassau County Legis. Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside) led them in a protest outside the facility on Long Beach Road, where they donned protective masks and carried signs that said "Stop the Stink," "Quell the Smell" and "When you Smell the Smell, Call," listing a phone number for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Toback called on the town to act immediately to eliminate the odor - whether with faster disposal of the yard wastes that are delivered there or by closing the facility.

The town has already implemented temporary measures that the DEC required in a May 15 letter. But Toback said the odors haven't abated.

The transfer station takes in grass clippings and lawn debris from the entire town, including its villages, mostly on Wednesdays. In addition, private carters bring lawn debris in Monday through Friday and Sanitary District 6 in Franklin Square dumps its debris there on Friday and Saturday.

"This year, all the rain is producing a tremendous amount of grass," said DEC spokesman Bill Fonda. He said the department is monitoring the area and documenting odor issues "so, ultimately, if enforcement becomes a necessary option, we will have the data to support it."

Town spokesman Michael Deery said that since May 15 the facility's staff has been "more effective in getting the debris off site" faster and, with one exception, the floor has been cleaned of debris every night.

"The town does everything within its power to run a clean operation there," he said. "We're trying to be good neighbors."

The DEC letter said violations included an unenclosed structure where the clippings were being dumped, mounds of debris being left overnight and trucks' leaking smelly liquid onto nearby streets.

The town's temporary measures include placement of a tarp to partly enclose the structure, switching from wet to dry sweeping, beefing up truck maintenance to prevent leakage and hiring a consultant, whom sanitation officials will meet with soon.

DEC officials said they've received 30 odor complaints - 13 since the May 15 letter was sent, including four on Saturday.

"I take pride in my community," said Sperico, a 22-year resident. "But the smell is horrific. It's embarrassing."

Copyright © 2009, Newsday Inc.

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