EDITORIAL:Appellate court gets it all wrong in Keegan closure reversal

It was almost as if you could hear an entire town yell: “Oh come on!” all at once. It was Friday, May 31, and an appellate court reversed Judge Jeff Jablonski’s decision to close the Keegan Landfill until, at the very least, late July.

Yet that figurative audible gasp wasn’t necessarily just because the landfill was to be reopened thanks to two judges who likely have no connection to the Town of Kearny — it was because of the flawed reasoning as to why the landfill should remain closed.

Mayor Alberto G. Santos summarized the judges’ rationale in a Facebook post, noting: “The appellate court reversed the temporary injunction closing the landfill largely on the premise that H2S emissions are from historical dumping and not current dumping.”

What the heck?

Clearly, these two judges — Jose Fuentes and Francis Vernoia — were unaware that on April 27, sheetrock fell off the back of a truck as the protest at the Keegan Landfill ended. If there was one piece of sheetrock that fell off that truck, logic dictates there was more on it that didn’t fall off.

Had they known about the sheetrock — who knows, maybe they actually did know about it — the judges would also be aware that on many a day, like last week, when rain falls, it mixes with the material to form … hydrogen sulfide.

So to point to historical dumping as the reason why there’s a “smell” coming from the Keegan Landfill — and why it should remain open — isn’t just wrong, it’s extremely flawed logic.

And even if that were the only reason why it smells like the worst rotten egg one could imagine — there was no concern shown, whatsoever, on the part of these two judges, for the health and well-being of the people of West Hudson.

So what if it’s historical dumping that causes the smells, your honors? Where was the concern for the health and well-being of residents?

Reports indicate there was an H2S reading, just about a week ago, that hit an obscene 800+ parts per billion.

At that level, prolonged exposure doesn’t just lead to coughs, breathing difficulty and eye irritation. The potential effects are significantly greater as that reading is more than 26 times the standard the State of New Jersey set as the maximum allowable level in air testing/readings.

Twenty-six times greater!

So all of this combined — and logic simple enough a fifth-grader could understand it — leads a rational human being to conclude the appellate court’s decision isn’t just wrong, it’s logically and deeply flawed.

The next step? The New Jersey Supreme Court. Santos says he will seek emergent relief there. And we can only help that group of justices think more clearly and more logically than its lower-court counterparts.

In the meantime, keep up the fight. We can ill afford to take a break or to fall back on complacency.

The stakes are just too high to do otherwise.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, an organization he has served since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on social media channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and X, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.