The nose knows this New Jersey town is a place to avoid — and residents know it too.
The smell in Kearny is so bad it is actually making breathing difficult for some neighbors, and health officials have been forced to close a neighboring soccer field four times within the last 10 days.
New Jersey’s Supreme Court temporarily shut down the Keegan Landfill in mid-June. Town officials were in Superior Court Thursday afternoon for a hearing to get the landfill — which takes construction waste, not household garbage — permanently closed.
The cause of the smell has been linked to sheet rock as it breaks down underground. Massive gas collection wells are set to be built underground in an effort to capture the hydrogen sulfide gas that’s been driving residents literally indoors for over a year.
One official said that system is not an optimal long-term solution. Kearny Health Director Ken Pincus suggests permanently closing the landfill and putting a cap on it would be the best way to solve the problem.
Heated public meetings and even protests have broken out as a result of the tremendous odor, as residents and officials say it’s not just about the smell. For those with asthma and respiratory problems, the stench represents a potential health issue.
Residents say the smell gets better at times, but is powerfully bad when it returns — which they dealt with Wednesday night, the stench of rotten eggs permeating the town. State officials have warned it is likely to get worse before it gets better.
Even residents of other towns, such as nearby Harrison, can smell it as well.
The state agency that operates the landfill, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, took the first steps this past week to getting rid of the odor that so many have complained about. The installation of the gas collection system and the increased odor are expected to go on for about another 10 days, and the system should be operational in September.