After years and years of fighting with countless businesses, government agencies and other organizations who have treated the Town of Kearny as a dumping ground, it appears one company that tried to do the same in Newark is preparing to try to “$h!t” on Kearny — figuratively and literally.
Here’s what we know so far.
Earlier this year, a company called Aries Clean Energy attempted to open a plant in an industrial area of Newark — on Doremus Avenue — that would have been used to process “biosolids,” or in simpler terms, “human feces.” It would have treated up to 430 tons of waste (per day) that originated from parts of Jersey and New York.
Reports indicate the “crap” is heated to 1,500º Fahrenheit and then turned into “biochar,” which is sold to area construction companies and then used to thicken concrete.
But, the people of Newark fought against its approval.
The NJ Department of Environmental “Protection” must grant permission for such a facility to operate. That approval never came.
So now, just months later, the Tennessee-based company wants to create such a facility, you guessed it, in Industrial Kearny, a part of the town that has seen an incredibly positive renaissance over the past decade, in ways once thought impossible.
Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos says he and the town are staunchly against the plan — which will have an NJDEP-sponsored public hearing Monday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. at the Scots-American Club, 40 Patterson St.
The DEP announced the hearing in public notices in other newspapers and will do so, also, in The Observer on Dec. 8, just five days before the scheduled hearing.
Santos hopes for a “good turnout,” in solidarity, against this proposal, but he fears that might not happen because he and others only just this week learned about the public hearing and since it’s happening just 12 days before Christmas, it may be difficult for many to attend. (It will be livestreamed — more on that later.)
“This use of property in South Kearny would be tremendously negative,” Santos told The Observer in an interview Dec. 3.
Santos says despite what the company says — that it would not be harmful to Kearny — it would be harmful, actually, based on numerous factors.
There would be dioxide emissions, truck traffic and pollution, odors that would form regardless of what the company says, ammonia emissions. And, not all of the human waste, he says, will be reusable.
“That waste would have to be disposed of in landfills,” Santos said.
He says the company is using a tactic called “Green Washing,” which is where a company that says it’s clean technologically works to “confuse” residents into believing its operations are all copasetic, when in reality, they’re not.
Santos points to years of progress in South Kearny — including the Kearny Pointe project at an old shipyard — that has brought with it a tremendous ratable to keep taxes stable.
“Property is selling for $5 million an acre in South Kearny. This is two times what it was selling for just two years ago,” Santos said. “We’ve turned the corner in a location that hadn’t seen progress like this for over half a century. There were many reasons why Newark fought this — and we will, too.”
Santos says he plans to attend the Dec. 13 public hearing, along with an environmental attorney and Town Administrator Steve Marks, to establish, for the town, its opposition to the proposal.
Meanwhile, the company would, at some point, need to bring its building plans before the town Planning Board and/or Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Ultimately, however, the decision whether to grant approval rests in the hands of the NJDEP.
“Recently, NJDEP finally got it as we saw with the Keegan Landfill,” the mayor said. “We are hoping they understand the role they’re supposed to play in 2021.”
Now, Santos noted something else — if the NJDEP approves this plan, allowing Aries to build in Industrial Kearny, it likely wouldn’t cause a health issue for uptown residents, but it would certainly hurt every taxpayer and renter’s wallets.
“We’ve made such great progress, more than we’ve seen in half a century,” Santos said. “An operation like this could deter others from coming here and hurt the public’s perception of Kearny.
Here’s where you all come in. We need residents to be as vocal about this as with the Keegan crisis. If you can’t make the public meeting, it will be livestreamed at www.transperfect.remotecounsel.com/meetings/GjhCuKD5n1o/join. The password is 715197.
The Observer plans to restream the meeting broadcast for those who might not be able to access the Zoom-based broadcast on all its online platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Twitch.
Learn more about the writer ...
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.