From her front porch on King Street, Kathy Deray can see the state-owned Keegan Landfill a half-mile away. Deray declined to be seen but wanted to be heard about the odor she says she’s endured for months.
“We had to cancel barbecues in the summertime because of the smell, the rotten egg smell. You’ll get a headache and extremely nauseous from the smell and your eyes will start to water,” said Deray.
Deray is among the hundreds complaining. That includes Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos who posted a Facebook video asking to have it fixed. Santos and residents blame the odor on the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority-owned landfill.
“Make that stop as soon as possible. And until they do that, they need to close this landfill,” said Santos.
Friday, trucks by the hundreds rolled in to the landfill that generates $17 million a year for the authority. The trucks dumped waste including Sheetrock, which along with other waste, can produce that hydrogen sulfide odor. The state says hydrogen sulfide is acceptable up to 30 parts per billion. After that, it can cause nausea, respiratory issues and more.
Santos says he has recent test results from the Hudson Regional Health Commission showing seven and eight times the allowable limit. Kearny installed its own air monitor and the mayor says its readings have topped the limit as well.
Santos says he knows of no one having to go to the emergency room because of the hydrogen sulfide odor, but he says for those with respiratory issues it has been a challenging time.
“Now it’s not only a quality-of-life issue. Now it’s a public health issue,” he said.
The Sports and Exposition Authority says Hudson Commission and the state Department of Environmental Protection have sent teams to the Keegan Landfill, but the visits have not produced any odor violations to the authority.
DEP wrote the mayor saying, “It has come to the DEP’s attention that unverified monitoring data recently generated by the HRHC may have overstated the actual concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in outdoor air. The anomalies compelled DEP to coordinate a training today on the proper use of air monitoring equipment.”
“I’m asking the Department of Environmental Protection to do what their name says: protect the environment,” Santos said.
The mayor and others find it incredulous the state says the landfill may not be the source of the odor.
“Well, that’s not true. It’s definitely coming from there. What else could it be coming from?” said Kearny resident Camille Tonelli.
The Department of Environmental Protection says that’s what it hopes more monitoring will determine.