(April 3, 2019)
This webpage will provide ongoing updates on the measures that NJSEA will take to resolve the issues concerning hydrogen sulfide emissions from the Keegan Landfill in Kearny, New Jersey and the resulting intermittent odors. To be clear, the NJSEA is aggressively pursuing a thorough and efficient resolution to this issue.
As set forth in our agreement with the NJDEP, the NJSEA will install gas monitors around the perimeter of the landfill and collect data from these monitors that will be reported to the NJDEP. To fix the problem, we will design, construct, and operate a system to collect and destroy hydrogen sulfide (H2S) emissions from the landfill, which is considered the most effective method for preventing associated odors from migrating off-site and impacting your community. These concrete measures along with various other requirements are memorialized in the Administrative Consent Order (ACO) with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The ACO makes clear what is expected of the NJSEA and the NJSEA is committed to meeting or exceeding the standards and deadlines it establishes.
We firmly believe that it is unacceptable for our landfill to be disruptive or troublesome for its neighbors and the community that hosts it. That is why we are closely coordinating with DEP officials. Following numerous inspections and investigations, DEP found levels of H2S emissions that exceeded state standards and determined that this is the likely source of at least some of the odor issues that residents have been experiencing.
We also now know why these odors have developed suddenly over the past several months. Under heavy rainfall volume, like occurred in the last year, landfills that accept construction and demolition debris, like Keegan, can increase the generation rate of H2S from the waste.
Contrary to what some are suggesting, closing the landfill or suspending operations will not stop the H2S emissions or the associated odors. H2S is generated when bacteria feeds on certain types of sulfate-containing construction waste, such as gypsum wallboard, under anaerobic (lack of oxygen) conditions, meaning that it comes from waste that is already buried rather than newly deposited material. The microbial reactions that generate the gas from this buried waste will continue until the source of the sulfate has been depleted. Therefore, closing the landfill will not solve the problem. Rather, the most effective means of fixing the problem include reducing the intake of the types of material that can result in H2S generation, identifying the locations in the landfill that are the source of the emissions, and installing an active gas collection system that will capture and destroy the H2S gas before it escapes and migrates off-site. This is what the ACO requires and this is what we intend to do.
We believe that the comprehensive ACO we entered into with DEP is the right way to address the problem and ensure that the Keegan Landfill is in compliance going forward. The ACO contains a strict compliance schedule to establish monitoring and implement a fix. The NJSEA has already submitted a proposed Monitoring Action Plan to the NJDEP, including installing air monitors that will sample 24 hours per day / 7 days per week. Furthermore, we intend to provide access to our monitoring data through this webpage, as well as information on the concrete steps we are taking to control hydrogen sulfide emissions from the landfill.
This agency is guided by its original mission to properly operate, and ultimately close, the Keegan Landfill in order to prevent the ongoing pollution of the Kearny Marsh by the millions of gallons of leachate generated from unregulated waste disposed at the site prior to our involvement. This agency installed a cut-off wall that isolates the Landfill from the marsh and collects and treats the leachate from the landfill rather than allowing it to pour into the marsh each year. We have worked hard to make this happen and have made an enormous investment in this endeavor. Because of our work and investment, the Kearny Marsh has been transformed into a thriving wetland habitat for birds, fish, and other wildlife. In line with this mandate, NJSEA is making an ironclad commitment to the residents of Kearny that we will fix this problem.