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Southold, Babylon towns extend trash hauling agreement for two years

Southold Town extended a garbage hauling agreement with Babylon for an additional two years, which will allow the town to maintain costs as opposed to shipping the waste off Long Island, according to Jim Bunchuck, the town’s solid waste coordinator.

The agreement first took effect in July 2015 and the extension takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Southold was paying $87.50 per ton in 2014, which was the town’s last year trucking waste out of state, Mr. Bunchuck said. Under the Babylon agreement, Southold paid less the following year. In 2015 and 2016 the cost was $80 a ton. An increase in 2017 was tied to the Consumer Price Index, which increases at 1.5-2% intervals, Mr. Bunchuck said. The current cost is approximately $85.40 per ton.

Long Island has four waste-to-energy plants, located in Babylon, Hempstead, Huntington and Islip. They are all managed by private operator, Covanta.

“Basically, they all produce electricity and feed into the PSE&G grid,” Mr. Bunchuck said. “I believe that’s been the case for a long time now, and so, in that sense, our waste is turned into energy for use on Long Island.”

Mr. Bunchuck said the agreement with Babylon keeps the garbage hauling costs predictable. Shipping off island can lead to greater unpredictability due to distance or fuel prices.

Stricter federal Department of Transportation regulations, like electronic monitoring on long-haul trucks — which would prevent drivers from exceeding allowable driving hours without a break — would also increase expenses for shipping off island, Mr. Bunchuck said.

”This is the first time we’ve kept Southold’s waste on the island … In the first year of the arrangement with Babylon, our price per ton dropped by $7.50 a ton and if you figure, at the time, there were more than 10,000 tons, so that’s more than $75,000 a year,” Mr. Bunchuck said.

Babylon and Covanta needed to negotiate an extension first before the extension with Southold could be completed, Mr. Bunchuck said.

“There’s no more option years at this point, so, in two years, the towns would need to renegotiate,” he said.

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