Ignoring Kearny’s ‘odors,’ Attorney General sues private Newark company for its bad smells

Maybe it’s about our zipcodes?

Or perhaps our residents are just flowing in too much cash?

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced last week he was joining state DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe in a legal action against a privately owned plant Down Neck for its emissions of “putrid” odors affecting the local community there.

As he and McCabe do this, Grewal has yet to utter a single word about the “odors” coming off the Keegan Landfill that have caused a clear health crisis. McCabe’s DEP has not fined the NJSEA for exceedances of its hydrogen-sulfide emissions since June, despite readings over 30 parts per billion threshold throughout the entire summer — including two readings over 1,000 ppb in August.

Here’s what the attorney general, appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy, another man who has refused to acknowledge the health crisis caused by the Keegan, is doing for the residents of the Ironbound.

The environmentally conscious duo announced last week that the state has filed a lawsuit against a plant in the Ironbound that is responsible for multiple community complaints of “putrid” and nausea-inducing odors, including “animal carcass odors.”

The defendant operates a plant that recycles animal by-products and grease into materials like feed and fuel components. In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court, the DEP alleges that Newark residents have filed numerous odor complaints regarding the facility, and that DEP concluded the odors result from Darling’s operations. (Sound familiar?)

The complaint also alleges that DEP has found these odors to interfere with affected residents’ enjoyment of life and property. At the same time, the complaint alleges the company has not been in compliance with its operating permits since 2017, and that the permits require the company to maintain emission control equipment to prevent exactly these kinds of odors from being released.

Editor’s note: Hmm … have not countless complaints been lodged about the Keegan Landfill? Has it not been determined our “putrid odors” are coming from the Keegan? Isn’t this the same DEP that investigates every single complaint and that recently found the H2S levels to be at 30 ppb inside a John Hay Avenue resident’s home?  At any rate, here’s what the AG has to say about “environmental justice,” something residents on this side of the Passaic River are also seeking, without any help from Grewal or McCabe.

“Environmental justice means addressing quality of life concerns for all of our communities, no matter their race, ethnicity, color, national origin or income,” Grewal said. “Far too often, companies think they can pollute the air we breathe and get away with it. But my office’s ongoing work to promote environmental justice means hearing local community concerns and taking action — whether we’re going after illegal dumping, soil contamination or odors and air pollution. Our message to our residents is clear: speak up about environmental harms, and we’ll keep fighting for you.”

Editor’s note: But you see, that’s exactly what West Hudsonians have done. They’ve spoken up about “environmental harms.” But the AG has been 100% and completely absent here. 

“The repeated air and odor violations at Darling Ingredients has caused serious disruption to the lives of the residents in Newark and beyond.  This conduct cannot be tolerated, so DEP is taking the necessary step of seeking court intervention to ensure immediate compliance with our environmental laws,” McCabe said. “Protecting the environment, health and quality of life for all New Jersey residents, including those in minority and low-income communities, is a priority for this administration. Today’s complaint — and ones before it — underscores our commitment to enforcing regulations to protect all New Jersey residents, making our state stronger and fairer for everyone.”

The AG’s news release goes on …

Over the past year and a half, DEP and Essex County Health Department (ECHD) officials on five separate occasions verified odor complaints by affected citizens. Complainants described a range of impacts on their daily life, including headaches, migraines and nausea. (Sound familiar?)

Complainants described not being able to go outside or to open their windows. Beyond those incidents, DEP received numerous other complaints on its hotline. But despite the assessment of penalties for these complaints, the lawsuit alleges, Darling has also not ceased emitting air pollution. (Again, sound familiar?)

We report — you decide. Doesn’t all of this sound familiar?

Perhaps if the Keegan Landfill were privately owned things would be different?

What are your thoughts? Send feedback to editorial@theobserver.com. We’ll print what you have to say in an upcoming edition of The Observer and on www.theobserver.com.

Learn more about the writer ...

Editor & Broadcaster at 

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.