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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2019

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 292-2994
Caryn Shinske (609) 984-1795

KEARNY RESIDENTS ADVISED THAT INTERMITTENT ODORS MAY INCREASE DURING CONSTRUCTION OF SYSTEM INTENDED TO RESOLVE HYDROGEN SULFIDE ODOR EMISSIONS FROM KEEGAN LANDFILL

(19/P061) TRENTON –The Department of Environmental Protection is advising residents of Kearny that intermittent hydrogen sulfide odors are likely to occur or increase as contractors for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority next week begin drilling vertical wells that are a key component of a system intended to resolve hydrogen sulfide odors at the Keegan Landfill.

The project is necessary to control these gases for the longer-term benefit of the community.

Under the terms of an Administrative Consent Order with the DEP, the NJSEA has established a continuous monitoring system to detect hydrogen sulfide emissions from Keegan Landfill. NJSEA has also committed to address these odors through construction of a gas collection and control system. DEP has approved NJSEA’s design and issued permits for installation of the system, which began on June 24 and is planned to be completed by Sept. 17.

“The DEP takes protection of public health and community concerns about hydrogen sulfide odors very seriously,” Commissioner McCabe said. “While hydrogen sulfide odors are likely to increase during the construction of this system, it is anticipated that, when complete, the system will assist in eliminating hydrogen sulfide odors from Keegan Landfill.”

It is common for odors to occur during installation of landfill gas collection and treatment systems. At Keegan Landfill, odors are likely to increase during installation of vertical wells that are drilled down through the landfill mass in order to collect the gas. Vertical well installation is anticipated to commence at Keegan Landfill on Tuesday, July 30.

While the community is likely to experience an increase in odors during construction, NJSEA and its contractors will observe best management practices required by DEP permits and approvals and work towards mitigating any increase in odors. DEP will be present to monitor compliance as NJSEA works to address all odors for the benefit of the community.

Anyone who is adversely impacted by hydrogen sulfide odors can contact the DEP’s hotline at 1-877-WARN DEP (877-927-6337) or report a complaint through the DEP’s WARN DEP mobile application.

To protect public health, the state uses a conservative hydrogen sulfide regulatory threshold of 30 parts per billion averaged over a 30-minute period as measured at or beyond a landfill property line. Keegan Landfill is situated off Bergen Avenue, north of Interstate 280.

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas that has a “rotten-egg” odor. It has a very low odor- threshold, meaning that some people may be able to smell it at levels much lower than the regulatory standard.

Hydrogen sulfide is a byproduct of industrial and natural processes, including during the breakdown of waste generated within a landfill. The NJSEA suspects that construction and demolition debris containing gypsum wallboard combined with excessive rainfall is generating production of hydrogen sulfide gas at the Keegan Landfill. The landfill has stopped accepting these materials.

Exposure to low concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in excess of the state’s 30-minute, 30 ppb standard has the potential to cause eye, nose, or throat irritation, headaches, and nausea. It may also cause difficulty breathing for some individuals with respiratory problems, such as asthmatics.

Through the voluntary Administrative Consent Order, the NJSEA agreed to install continuously operating air monitors followed by construction of a temporary gas collection system until a more permanent system can be built. The DEP started receiving from the public complaints about odors in December and worked quickly to identify the landfill as the source. The NJSEA has been working cooperatively with the DEP to resolve the problem.

Between May 15 and July 22, 2019, the average of hydrogen sulfide emissions from Keegan Landfill were between 0.96 ppb and 3.30 ppb, below the regulatory standard of 30 ppb over 30 minutes and below the Minimal Risk Levels observed by the New Jersey Department of Health, which means that the levels of hydrogen sulfide recorded to date are not known to cause adverse health effects. However, exceedances of the 30-minute, 30 ppb regulatory standard were detected on multiple occasions between 30.3 ppb and 828 ppb. DEP is taking enforcement action with respect to these exceedances.

As the NJSEA works in install the gas collection and control system, DEP inspectors will be working to ensure that appropriate best-management practices are implemented to mitigate odors from the release of hydrogen sulfide or the disruption of solid waste.

For a DEP fact sheet, visit www.nj.gov/dep/enforcement/

For more information on the project from the NJSEA, visit www.njsea.com/

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