Riverhead to bury dead fish at Youngs Avenue compost pit

Dead fish line the shoreline at Indian Island Monday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Dead fish line the shoreline at Indian Island County Park one recent morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

With the Peconic River once again filled with dead bunker fish, the Riverhead Town Board on Tuesday passed an emergency resolution to hire a Greenport man to remove them. 

The board hired Tom Sweat to remove the fish at a rate of 32 cents per pound of fish, beginning Wednesday.

The dead fish will be hauled ashore in nets, then put in containers and eventually taken to a compost pit behind the town landfill on Youngs Avenue, where they will be buried with a mix of compost and lime to mask the odor.

“We’ll put in bunker, then compost, them lime, then another layer of bunker, then compost, then lime,” Supervisor Sean Walter said. “It will be like a layer cake.”

The town has the permission of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, he said.

“The conditions created by the dead bunker, if not abated, threaten or imperil the well-being and health of the citizens and visitors of the Town of Riverhead,” the resolution states.

The resolution to hire Mr. Sweat caps the maximum amount he can make from the venture at $30,000, which was recommended by Councilwoman Jodi Giglio.

Mr. Walter said if the town gets a favorable wind that blows the fish out to sea again, it might not need Ms. Sweat’s services as much.

“I doubt we’ll spend $15,000 on this,” Councilman John Dunleavy said.

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