An appellate has reversed an injunction that had shut down the last active landfill in the New Jersey Meadowlands area, frustrating the leaders of Kearny, who have spent years trying to close the site.
Judges Jose L. Fuentes and Francis J. Vernoia, acting on an appeal by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) , ruled that there is no evidence that temporarily closing the 110-acre Keegan Landfill would reduce or eliminate the hydrogen sulfide gas emissions that Kearny residents say have permeated the town.
The decision will allow the sports authority, which oversees the site, to once again let haulers dump construction waste at the landfill. An authority spokesman declined to comment.
Kearny Mayor Al Santos said the town intends to file an emergency appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday. “We’re obviously disappointed with the closure reversal,” he said. The city sued the authority and the state Department of Enviornmental Protection (DEP) in April to get the landfill closed. On May 24, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Jablonski issued the injunction closing the landfill temporarily until a July 25 hearing to decide if the site should shut down permanently.
In overturning the injunction, Fuentes and Vernoia sided with the authority’s claim that the noxious fumes cited by Santos and town residents are the result of previously buried garbage and not because of refuse dumped there recently. They also said any remediation of the site can occur while it is open.
Jablonski’s decision to order the landfill closed was “not supported by the evidence,” the judges said in their three-page order.
The landfill generated $17.7 million in tipping fees last year for the sports authority.
Santos has made closing the landfill something of a personal crusade. In January he posted video to Facebook showing what appears to be a hauler dumping sewage sludge at the site, in violation of state law. A DEP investigation of the site found elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, which can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, fatigue and breathing and balance problems. The authority was fined $2,000.
Friday’s order wasn’t entirely bad news for Kearny. The judges found the authority and the DEP must provide emails about the landfill sought by town officials.