The immediate issue before the East Hampton Town Board at its work session on Tuesday was a suggested $4,000 “quick fix” for the smell emanating from the East Hampton Town scavenger waste treatment plant on Springs Fireplace Road. The long-range issue was the performance of the Trent Severn Environmental Service Company, which operates the facility, and whether its contract with the town should be renewed.
The pervasive smell and a number of violations issued in the last year by the State Department of Environmental Conservation have been problems for the board. The D.E.C. has given the town until Dec. 23 to submit a remediation plan.
Members have expressed concern about whether a new bio-filter would prove effective against the smell and questioned its cost-effectiveness. Meanwhile, Trent Severn’s contract will expire at the end of the month.
Deputy Supervisor Theresa Quigley asked the board to hold off on discussing Trent Severn until it could go into executive session at the close of the open meeting. “We’re talking about an employee. I want the ability to talk about them, where they failed, and what they want, without fear of saying things that I’m not accurate, and it’s not getting out there,” she said.
According to Councilwoman Julia Prince, the D.E.C. violations stem from its having adopted higher standards. East Hampton did not protest the changes, she said, while other towns on Long Island had done so successfully.
While there is no guarantee that changing the bio-filter would be a permanent solution, Councilman Dominick Stanzione said the town would “be remiss to not try.”
“We need to make an attempt to demonstrate we’re making an effort to fix it, but I don’t think it will work,” he said, calling the whole waste system defective, including its underlying system.
Ms. Prince argued that point. “I can’t say the scientific method has been defective. They’re testing it regularly,” she said.
“There is a rope around this conversation. We have to deal with how as a corporation we deal with septic waste. We’re suffering from nitrogen pollution, and we may need to take a more professional look at that, and see what other resources are available,” Mr. Stanzione said.
Anticipating that the board would have a larger conversation later, Ms. Prince said that she would “never support closing down the facility and losing the permit, simply because you will never get the permit back.”
“I’ve been talking about this for six years,” said Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson. “It’s an issue of trust.” Someone in the audience then added his opinion, yelling out, “And money!”