Mamaroneck Village Board of Trustees Gets Update on Likely Outcome of Plastic Disks at Harbor Island

Plastic pellets that end up on Harbor Island beach to be contained once the work is done by year's end.

Residents upset with the noise emanating from the construction at the sewage treatment plant at  should get used to it, according to Thomas J. Lauro, commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities, since that the project will likely continue past the deadline date of Dec. 31, 2012.

At last night’s Village of Mamaroneck Board of Trustees meeting, Lauro outlined the project’s scope and goals. Presently, the plant accommodates 20.6 million gallons of water a day, which sometimes surges up to 108 million gallons during rainfall. The construction will allow for an expansion of three million gallons on a normal day and is also attempting to remedy the discharge of quarter-size plastic pellets, called media, into Long Island Sound.

The media, which resemble small gears or wagon wheels, help remove nitrogen, which contributes to algae in the harbor and are added to the plant’s aeration tanks. The media are being removed and stored in large red receptacles on the property before they are placed back in the six tanks, where they fill around two-thirds of the capacity.

But it’s not only the construction noise that irks locals.

“Is the storage area outside of building going to shrink?” asked Trustee Sid Albert. “Quite a few people live across the street from that look at it and it’s not very attractive.”

The storage area “won’t get any larger,” said Lauro.  “We do not want to expand or take over any of the park.”

Last March, thousands of the , washing up on shores in Larchmont, Mamaroneck and New Rochelle, and befuddling those confronted with the deluge of plastic detritus.  

“The manufacturer made two promises,” said Lauro. “One, that the media would never get out of the tank—we see how well that one worked—and that we’d never have a reason to remove them from tank to tank.”

As the labor-intensive project continues, the media have indeed been removed from the tank, but the county has added sieve screens at the bottom of the tanks and removed concrete from the back wall to let water flow through faster in an effort to keep the media out of the sound.

A mandate to complete the work by year’s end has led the county to increase work hours for contractors who begin work at 7 a.m. and end at 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and work from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, said Lauro.

“There has been a noticeable lack of work down there that residents have inquired about,” said Trustee John Hofstetter. “I want to make sure that it’s only because of the media and not other scheduling issues.”

In response, Lauro said, “This year, we asked the contractor to put together a schedule to meet [the Dec. 31 construction deadline]. We may go over, even though we’re working extended hours.” He also instructed the contractor to keep loud noise, like jackhammers, from starting before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

If the county fails to meet the project’s deadline, it could be subject to hefty fines of up to $37,500 a day, said Lauro, though the fines would likely be reduced.

Albert asked if the media would continue to show up on the beach after the construction is complete: “I’ve been to Harbor Island at times when they’re all over the place,” he said.

The media “won’t leave the plant anymore,” assured Lauro, who added that the ones currently in the sound will likely wash up on the beach. “If we get a complaint, we will go out with our crews and clean it up.”

BG7 February 14, 2012 at 10:08 PM
They are all over the Rye conservancy nature reserve beaches too. I've picked up scores of them to put in the trash.
Doreen Roney February 15, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It just goes to show you that what we do here has effects in far away places. I read articles about "our" sewage treatment plant disks reaching as far up as RI and Mass. right after this happened. Here's where else these showed up- http://theloopny.com/blog/plastic-disks-from-mamaroneck-found-on-east-li-beaches/ Remember the “wagon wheel” white plastic discs all over local area beaches in early March? They washed out of the Mamaroneck sewage treatment plant after heavy rains. A survey of newspapers and websites shows us exactly how far some of those little critters traveled…some as far as Riverhead, Long Island. Small Plastic Disks Wash Up on North Shore Beaches‎ – Long Island Press Small plastic disks washing ashore are not harmful, health …‎ – Riverhead LOCAL Bailie Beach disks were from Westchester - Suffolk Times It just goes to show you that what we do here has effects in far away places.
Chief Siwanoy February 19, 2012 at 07:42 PM
Not all the plastic disks well to our east are from the Mamaroneck treatment plant: http://www.newburyportnews.com/local/x977550270/Tested-disks-free-of-E-coli


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