Kearny Mayor Al Santos is calling on the state to temporarily close the Keegan Landfill after smelly air samples recently collected from the facility revealed levels of hydrogen sulfide that he says could impact the health of residents.
The town has logged more than 200 complaints of a sulfurous “rotten eggs” smell coming from 100-plus-acre landfill owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA).
The site is monitored by the Hudson Regional Health Commission (HRHC), which said Monday that it has been tracking odor complaints around the landfill but has been unable to verify the landfill is the source of the smell. The commission is in the preliminary stage of sorting through air reading data.
Santos noted that in July, the site was issued a violation for accepting liquid sewage sludge, which is illegal at the facility. He said sewage can emit the sulfurous odor, as can decomposing sheet rock. But the NJSEA contends the substance Santos was referencing was not liquid sewerage, but was solid waste.
The NJSEA said Monday that the facility has been inspected 30 times since June and inspectors are trying to determine where the odor is coming from, but there is no reason to think it is emanating from the landfill.
According to a hydrogen sulfide fact sheet published by the New Jersey Department of Health, exposure to low concentrations within the range of 30 ppb may cause eye, nose, or throat irritation, headaches and nausea.
The Centers for Disease Control Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states that low concentrations of 50 ppm can rapidly produce irritation of the nose, throat, and lower respiratory tract.
Santos said the HRHC conducted air tests at the facility on Feb. 7 and within an hour, there were 21 readings above 30 ppb. He said several were over 100 ppb. Santos also alleged the site has no permit for the system of 28 pipes that vent underground gasses.
The mayor wants the site capped for use for recreation fields as was the original promise when the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission began leasing the landfill about in 2005.
“Ultimately, I want what was promised to the town — a permanently closed landfill that can be used for open space for recreation fields,” Santos said.