Spring recreational sports could be affected if gas levels detected near the Fenimore landfill continue past the winter, a residents' group warned this week. According to the Roxbury Evironmental Action Coalition -- an advocacy group formed in response to concerns about the landfill, which in 2012 began emitting rotten egg-like smells that spread through much of town -- monitors have picked up sustained readings of hydrogen sulfide at between 8 and 14 parts per billion in recent weeks.
ROXBURY, NJ – Air monitors at ball fields near the former Fenimore Landfill have been reporting “sustained background” hydrogen sulfide levels that would be high enough to warrant restrictions on youth sports at nearby fields, according to a watchdog group. In a press release issued Thursday, the Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition (REACT) pointed to air monitor readings that are posted online. Unlike prior reports about the monitors recording extremely high, but usually very short, “spikes” in the noxious gas – incidences that experts contend were due to electrical glitches, not actual gas readings – the readings cited by REACT are moderately elevated and longer lasting.
Unconvinced by a report that blames electrical glitches for peaks in hydrogen sulfide near Fenimore Landfill, activists are asking why, if the findings are true, do they still smell rotten eggs now and then. And they are asking people who catch those whiffs to make some noise. ''If you are smelling the Fenimore Landfill, please take 5 minutes and call the NJDEP Hotline: 877-WARN-DEP," wrote the Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition (REACT) on its Facebook page today. "It doesn't matter if you are home, at work, in a car, walking, it all counts."
Sporadic high readings of hydrogen sulfide reported by air monitoring devices surrounding the Fenimore Landfill were caused by “electrical interference of some sort” and were not real escapes of the noxious gas, according to a report by the company that installed the units. In a Jan. 30 letter to Roxbury Township Attorney Anthony Bucco, Emilcott Technologies President Bruce Groves said he investigated the “air monitoring exceedance data” that has alarmed anti-Fenimore activists. The activists contend the township was remiss in not sending alerts, to warn people about high hydrogen sulfide readings, when the equipment recorded the spikes.
The State Ethics Commission has shot down subpoena that sought to uncover why it dismissed a complaint against a former Department of Environmental Protection official, alleging she interfered with projects to help her husband's business. In a letter sent Friday to attorney Matthew Fredericks -- who represents the owner of the Fenimore landfill property in Roxbury, and who first made the ethics complaint in early 2013 -- the commission said Fredericks didn't show a strong enough need for access to its confidential investigative files.
Following an active 2014, Elliott Ruga, senior policy analyst and campaign coordinator at the New Jersey Highlands Coalition (www.njhighlandscoalition.org) in Boonton, said his team remains aggressively involved in several missions related to advocacy for the natural resources within New Jersey's Highlands region, which supplies water to more than half of the state's population.
Opponents of the state's solution to the Fenimore Landfill odor problem continue to voice their grievances, undauntedly pursuing the removal from the site of the high-tech cap and gas treatment system installed there last year to stop odors. State officials insist they will not reverse course and remove the cap and gas oxidation equipment to allow excavation of the odiforous material below. But members of the Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition (REACT) - calling the system a Band-Aid approach - are not surrendering their quest to have the cap removed and the decomposing construction material trucked away.
The attorney for the Fenimore Landfill's owner says he wants to know why the State Ethics Commission dismissed his complaint alleging a state official interfered with Fenimore's operations — and in so doing, the attorney says, gave her husband's landfill a competitive advantage. The commission dismissed the complaint against former Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Irene Kropp in September of last year, 21 months after attorney Matthew Fredericks filed it on behalf of Strategic Environmental Partners, which owns Fenimore.
While the state continues its capping project at Fenimore landfill, Roxbury has spent nearly $750,000 of its own money dealing with problems at the site, which has plagued the township with toxic hydrogen sulfide fumes since late 2011. Reports posted this week on the township website detail Fenimore-related expenses from 2012 to 2014 totaling $747,079.47.
Over the last three years, dealing with the Fenimore landfill — the site once destined to become a solar farm, eventually taken over by the state as pungent smells became a near-daily hardship for people living anywhere near the property — has cost Roxbury nearly $750,000, according to the township That's a cost of about $31 per person over the course of three years, according to a breakdown prepared by Roxbury officials. That doesn't account for the considerably larger sums the state has spent on the project — though Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese declined to provide fugues, citing ongoing litigation over Fillmore.