CAPPED AS PLANNED — 14 months later, Keegan closure project on target for October completion

It’s been 14 months since residents got the “miraculous” news that the Keegan Landfill, after months of fighting and filling the air with the smell of rotten eggs would finally close. And, it appears the process to fill and cap the landfill is still on track, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials at the NJSEA report that since March 2020, the Keegan Landfill, located off the Bergen Avenue extension in Kearny, has been receiving an average of 20,000 cubic yards per month of soil for grading and contouring the landfill in preparation for final capping. The soil is currently being placed on the eastern portion of the landfill (furthest away from Schuyler Avenue).

It is important to note — the delivery of this soil is the only material permitted to be taken to the landfill. Nothing else may be dumped there as the landfill is permanently closed.

The process is being monitored by consultants for the Town of Kearny who make regular visits to the site. Placement of soil on the eastern portion of the landfill was to commenced in late September. The Town of Kearny is copied on all NJSEA submissions to the NJDEP including, but not limited to, daily hydrogen sulfide monitoring data and permit applications.

The first phase of the gas control and collection system began operating in September 2019 and immediately resulted in significant reductions in hydrogen sulfide gas emissions. The second phase was completed in early 2020.

An application for the final phase of the landfill gas collection system, which includes an enclosed flare and sulfur treatment system was submitted to the NJDEP in December 2019. The system was delivered, installed and was operationally ready in March 2020, with startup on hold pending NJDEP approval of the application. The enclosed flare began operation Sept. 21, 2020.

As part of its pursuit of regulatory approval, the NJSEA submitted timely responses in February 2020 and May 2020 to comments received from the NJDEP.

On Sept. 4, 2020, the NJSEA received temporary approval from the NJDEP (in advance of permit issuance) for operation of the enclosed flare to better protect wildlife from the exposed flame of the open flares.

In accordance with the ACO, there has been continuous operation (24 hours/day, 7 days/week) of the gas collection and control system, including the sulfur treatment system, since March 2020. The system applies a vacuum to the landfill, which has resulted in the collection and control of approximately 396 million standard cubic feet of landfill gases between January and August 2020.

Monitoring and adjustment of the gas-collection system occurs weekly. There have been no exceedance readings since February 2020.

On July 7, 2020, the NJSEA submitted a closure and post-closure plan to the NJDEP, which includes the engineering design of the final cover system in accordance with NJDEP regulations and approvals.

KEARNY MAYOR ALBERTO G. SANTOS File photo

Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos, who was at the forefront during the fight to get the landfill closed in 2019, says he is pleased with the progress being made at the landfill.

“The NJSEA is in substantial compliance with the landfill closure schedule that was included in the judicial consent order,” Santos said. “The town attorney typically receives monthly closure reports. The capping of the western half of the landfill, which was projected for Jan. 25, 2021, in the timeline attached to the judicial consent order, was met.

“Even better news is that the capping of the eastern half of the landfill is on schedule and expected to be completed by the projected October 2021 date in the timeline. The work done to date has already had a material impact by sharply reducing the number and duration of hydrogen sulfide exceedances. … Our goal was not only the closure of the Keegan Landfill but also the installation of a cap with an impermeable liner so that hydrogen sulfide exceedances are eliminated. Our community fought tirelessly for this result in 2019. And now we are very close to seeing it fully implemented.”

Similarly, the NJSEA is pleased with its progress, as well.

Photo by Deborah Garcia

“The NJSEA has been working  diligently to fill and grade the site with oversight by the Town of Kearny, which is sent all fill records and visits the site to monitor progress,” the NJSEA said in a statement to The Observer. “To date, the NJSEA has met all of its obligations. Emissions of hydrogen sulfide from the landfill are under control and the permanent flare was activated last year.

“This permanent flare replaced the prior two utility flares. The air permit and landfill closure plan were submitted on time and are under active review. Perimeter monitors remain in place and results are posted in real time on the NJSEA website www.njsea.com.”

A recent review of the air-monitoring reports reveal it is rare, not the norm, that the H2S readings go north of 5 parts-per-billion (PPB). You may recall the maximum acceptable/allowable amount of H2S, according to DEP standards, is 30 PPB.

There were times, during the landfill ordeal back in 2019, where the H2S readings were more than 10 times the maximum safe allowable amount.

To view the live, real-time air system monitoring at the Keegan, visit www.bit.ly/h2slive. To read past air-quality reports, visit www.bit.ly/h2sreports.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off 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 Facebook Live, 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 West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.