TRENTON - The New Jersey legislature has unanimously passed a bill that is expected to bring relief to residents of Roxbury who have been suffering from toxic fumes.
The Landfill Closure Bill, which comes in the wake of an ongoing Kane In Your Corner investigation into health problems caused by the abandoned Fenimore Landfill, passed the Assembly by a vote of 77-0 Monday. The State Senate passed the bill unanimously last week and Gov. Chris Christie has indicated he will sign it into law.
A small group of Roxbury residents who traveled to Trenton to witness the vote was thrilled. "I think it's fantastic," Janet Lemma said. "It was a long road, it was a long day, but it was a great day to be here and a great day for Roxbury."
The health concerns in Roxbury began late last year, after a developer began a remediation and redevelopment project at the old landfill site, which was abandoned in 1979. Concerns reached a peak last week, when an air quality monitor in town registered Hydrogen Sulfide readings of 810 parts per billion (ppb). Under the new legislation, 30 ppb is considered a safe level: and any sustained reading higher than that empowers the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to take over remediation efforts and send the property owner the bill.
The legislation also takes direct aim at other issues News 12 New Jersey's Walt Kane exposed during his investigation. The man behind the project, Richard Bernardi, is a convicted felon, and while state law bars felons from operating landfills, the NJDEP argued it did not apply to Bernardi since he was remediating a landfill rather than operating one. The new legislation closes that loophole.
Bernardi also signed several legal documents indicating he was the "director", "managing member" and "applicant/owner" of Strategic Environmental Partners, the company which owns the Fenimore property. In fact, corporate documents show he is not an officer or a member of that company and does not even work there.
Under the new legislation, a single misrepresentation like that would void the landfill project and allow the NJDEP to step in.