EDITORIAL: NJSEA has a chance to redeem itself Thursday by not contesting Kearny’s Keegan lawsuit

Litigators for the Town of Kearny and the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority are slated to be in Superior Court on Thursday, July 25, to argue whether the Keegan Landfill, a source of great disdain for this community for the last year, should be reopened.

And, regardless of the victor, it is likely this will only (and again) be the beginning of a battle that will likely move from state court, to the appellate division and then to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Though there could be remedies beyond the state Supreme Court, in federal courts, up to and including the United States Supreme Court, chances are slim it will get that far.

But it all leads to a point made by several speakers who appeared at the podium when the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority met last week — the state still has a golden opportunity to demonstrate it has a heart. It has a chance to show the people of this area that it knows the landfill’s risks far outweigh the benefits of reopening the landfill. It has a chance to demonstrate it puts the lives of human beings way above the flow of cash.

It has a chance to appear at court Thursday, July 25, to inform the judge it will no longer oppose Town of Kearny’s reasonable request to keep the Keegan Landfill closed for good, to finish the project installing a gas-collection system and to place an impermeable cap that will curtail the health hazards and noxious odors that have been plaguing the area for what seems like an eternity.

The readings included in this week’s edition of The Observer reveal something startling: People’s health is more at-risk than we may have originally thought. That there was a hydrogen sulfide reading of 800+ parts per billion (ppb) when the maximum state-created safe level is 30 ppb is staggering.

At the NJSEA meeting, the authority’s own experts all but admitted it is extremely unsafe to be anywhere near that landfill. Said expert ascended to the podium and noted that all workers who are installing the gas-collection system wear a monitor that sounds when any of four different gases are at an unacceptable level.

One of those gases, of course, is H2S — and she noted that if the monitors go off, the workers are evacuated from the landfill until a time when the results return to an acceptable level.

So we ask — why is the NJSEA (rightfully) concerned about the health of workers, but completely brain dead over the health of residents West Hudson and beyond?

This moment at the meeting went largely unnoticed — but not to us. We heard it loud and clear. The NJSEA is concerned for the workers because they are fully aware there is a health crisis being caused by the Keegan. And yet, when asked, authority Chairman John Ballantyne practically laughed when it was suggested the NJSEA give similar monitors to all families of Kearny.

He laughed because up to now, he’s been 100% tone deaf. The NJSEA, as a whole, has been, too. And, of course, the same must be said of Gov. Phil Murphy.

The NJSEA has now all but admitted to the health crisis. Thursday, they have a chance to make things right. When the litigators gather in Jersey City, those representing the state must do the right thing — and that is to inform the court they will not contest Kearny’s desire to keep the landfill closed and capped forever.

At this point, nothing else will suffice. Absolutely nothing.

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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.