STIRLING - Some Roxbury residents accuse Gov. Chris Christie of not telling the whole truth about the cleanup of the Fenimore Landfill, which emitted fumes that made people sick. And a Kane In Your Corner “Truth Test” gives the governor mixed marks for accuracy.
News 12 New Jersey’s Walt Kane exposed the problems at the landfill last year, in a monthslong investigation that led to a state takeover and a new environmental law.
At a town hall meeting in Stirling, the governor said, “There are no health hazards currently coming from the Fenimore Landfill.” Kane In Your Corner found the statement TRUE, but only to a point, noting that while hydrogen sulfide levels are now below unsafe levels for most people, they are still high enough to cause health problems for those with asthma and weakened immune systems.
When Roxbury resident Myrna Fernandez repeated a common request from homeowners that the state remove the debris that caused the fumes, Christie said that’s not an option because “digging the stuff out will take years and the disturbance it will cause will create more smell.” Kane In Your Corner found the statement TRUE, noting that experts have a wide variety of opinions on the subject, but many agree with the governor.
In several other cases, the Truth Test found Christie crossed the line, including when he insisted the state had properly vetted landfill developer Richard Bernardi, who it later sued for control of the landfill. “The fact is that you had an extraordinarily irresponsible landfill owner who broke the law,” Christie said. “We can try as best we can to make sure everyone follows the law but not everyone’s going to.” Kane in Your Corner found that statement FALSE, noting that the state overlooked the fact that Bernardi was a convicted felon who should have been barred from working on landfills, and that he did not actually own the landfill property, despite signing documents indicating he did.
Christie also defended the conduct of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection since the state takeover, telling Fernandez that “to say the DEP is unwilling to meet with people, that’s completely untrue.” Kane In Your Corner found the governor’s statement to be FALSE. Despite repeated requests, the DEP has yet to meet with any Roxbury residents, although it has met privately with town officials.
Kane In Your Corner found insufficient information to judge the accuracy of one of the governor’s statements, that the landfill cleanup is “not going to take 10 years” and that “the scrubbers won’t be there nearly that long.” Kane In Your Corner noted that the DEP has yet to produce a final cleanup plan.