State mandates Keegan Landfill to install air-quality monitors amid bad smells

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KEARNY -

New Jersey state officials have mandated that air-quality monitors be installed at a Hudson County landfill amid complaints of bad fumes coming from the site.

Kearny residents who live near the Keegan Landfill have complained about rotten egg smells coming from the area. Several have said that the fumes have caused them eye and throat irritation.

Officials say that the smell is coming from rotting drywall that is often dumped at the site. They say that trucks bringing trash to the landfill will now need to be free of drywall when they come in.

But Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos says that he is skeptical because Keegan is primarily a construction landfill.

"There's no way to monitor everything that gets dumped. There will always be drywall in these loads,” he says.

RELATED: Smelly garbage dump upsets Kearny residents 

Santos says that the rotting drywall produces hydrogen sulfide. He says that the gas rising above the landfill is registering at 25 parts per billion. It is at 30 parts per billion that can cause irritation of the eyes, nose and possibly cause respiratory issues.

Santos says that the other issue is that the landfill is located very close to the town’s baseball fields.

"We have to come up with a plan now to shut down that field when we get readings. That’s going to create havoc in our recreation program,” he says.

The landfill is owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. Under the order of the state Department of Environmental Protection, they will begin to monitor the air quality.

A spokesperson for the NJSEA says in a statement, "We firmly believe that it is unacceptable for our landfill to be disruptive or troublesome for its neighbors and the community that hosts it."

But the NJSEA argues against closing the landfill as a way to stop the odor saying of the hydrogen sulfide that “...it comes from waste that is already buried rather than newly deposited material."

The NJSEA says it is working closely with the Department of Environmental Protection and will install a system to collect the gas before it escapes into neighborhoods.

Santos says that he will be attending a public meeting with the NJSEA on Thursday to ask for the landfill to be closed down. He says that he hopes the dispute gets the attention of state legislators.

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