NJTV
NJTV News with Mike Schneider
Watch

Parents Worry About Children’s Health Because of Fenimore Landfill

9-9-13

By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

Instead of the normal first day of school jitters, students and parents in Roxbury Township are more concerned about the stench coming from the nearby Fenimore Landfill.

“We virtually live our life by the direction of the wind, where the smell is going to be. It makes me decide where my children can play, how I’m going to drive out of the development, what roads I’m going to take so that I don’t have to expose my children to this smell,” said parent Linda Keane.

“The smell has now permeated, come into my home so we have it in our home all the time so we can’t escape it outside and we can’t come inside. And now it’s in my water. It’s totally infected my pipes and in my water so I have the smell coming from there,” said Shannon Caccavella.

There are about 4,000 students in the district. Nearly 1,000 of them live within a half mile of the landfill. Caccavella believes the hydrogen sulfide gas coming from the site is causing her daughter to have headaches.

“She started having migraine headaches. And we were unsure of the cause, so we went through all the CAT scans, all these tests. And there’s nothing wrong with her. And the doctor says that it has to be environmental, and when we started the ball rolling about what’s going on, we realized that it was hydrogen sulfide that was causing her headaches,” Caccavella said.

School Superintendent Patrick Tierney wrote a letter to state officials expressing his concerns. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has taken over the landfill from a private owner. The agency is monitoring hydrogen sulfide levels at the site, which have on several occasions exceeded the minimum risk level.

Residents get updates on smartphones or computers via the township website. But critics say there aren’t enough monitors and they claim they have malfunctioned on occasion. The New Jersey Department of Health posted a fact sheet on its website. It says “hydrogen sulfide has not been shown to cause cancer in humans,” but it also acknowledges that “reactions to the odor itself may trigger symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sleep disturbance, loss of appetite and headache.”

“We recently put out an updated fact sheet and as of right now — all the data that we have available to us — there’s no reason there should be any long-term health effects,” said Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd.

But critics are questioning that data. And some residents are demanding answers now.

“We want it remedied. We want the smell to go away. We want Roxbury restored to where it was before the DEP allowed this to happen to our town,” Janet Lemma said.

While the DEP works to address the problem, some residents want financial assistance to relocate until the area is remediated.


  • R Paddock

    Thank you for the concise and factual report of the situation in Roxbury Township.

  • B. PELTZ

    I can not beleive that the people in the Roxbury area are meant to suffer this long over the FENIMORE LANDFILL, Something should be down NOW!! My children and granchildren live around there and when we visit the smell is terrible, also there HEALTH is a big concern for us as they have been living with this for some time.

  • S.McGowan

    Great report. It appears like the DEP/DOH aren’t concerned about the health implications. How about the financial implications? I have a # of friends in surrounding towns that no longer frequent Sports Authority, Cliffs, Wal Mart due to the smell. Eventually these businesses will go away and impact the tax revenue for the town/county.

  • P. Smith

    The DEP made the mistake of contracting with a criminal to bring “fill” on the site. Of course the criminal brought nothing but wallboard which is the cause of the H2S fumes. The judge could not see that every day she allowed him to operate, the problem got worse. The reality is that you cannot have this much wallboard rotting into H2S in such a densely populated area. It must be trucked back out. The systems they are putting in place are not working. The DEP made the mistake, they need to pay to fix it – whatever the cost. Prior to this project there were no such fumes. Roxbury must be returned to the way it was prior to this mistake.

  • L Emery

    I think that it is a disgrace that a town that USE to be as good as Roxbury is now suffering in this way. What towns are going to want to bring their children in to play sports with our chldren? What kind of health concerns are the children going to have in the future? Hopefully they will start to see the dangers more clearly and truck this mess out of our township.