Contractors removed more than 10,000 pounds of dead bunker fish from downtown waters today, Supervisor Sean Walter said this afternoon.

Bunker collected near the docks at Riverhead Moose Lodge marina.Photo: Peter Blasl
Bunker collected near the docks at Riverhead Moose Lodge marina. Photo: Peter Blasl

The fish have been dumped into a 20-foot deep by 30-foot long trench in the yard waste area at the town’s closed Youngs Avenue landfill site.

Greenport fisherman Thomas Sweat dragged a net with the help of the town pump-out boat, Walter said.

An environmental cleanup company the supervisor said he hired off a Brookhaven Town contract assisted with the effort today, he said. They mixed lime with the dead fish as they loaded them into the company’s truck and that kept the fish odor down in addition to accelerating decomposition, he said. That company hauled the dead fish from the shore to the landfill.

“The stuff came out of that truck like a gray milkshake,” Walter said. “It was pretty disgusting.”

Sweat will be paid 32 cents per pound for the fish removal. The environmental cleanup company will be paid $1,200 for the day.

2015_0617_bunker_cleanup_truckThe town board authorized hiring Sweat last night, but not the environmental cleanup company, Walter acknowledged. He said he was hoping the town highway department would supply trucks to haul the fish, but couldn’t work that out with Highway Superintendent George Woodson.

“That’s not so,” Woodson said. “I had a truck down there for four hours waiting to be loaded. After four hours, they had this vacuum truck show up, so I had my guy leave. It was a waste of time due to poor planning,” he said.

The supervisor said the town’s procurement policy allows him to hire a company off another municipality’s contract without the town board’s prior approval.

Editor’s note: This article has been amended to include Highway Superintendent George Woodson’s comments.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.