An 86-acre landfill is believed to be the cause of numerous smelly outbreaks in residential areas in Monroe Township, New Jersey.
Residents near the decommissioned superfund site describe the smell as natural gas-like
and say the odor would only surface in their homes sporadically over the years. However, they say the outbreaks have gotten more frequent, long-lasting, and stronger in recent weeks.
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A Long, Odorous History
Monroe Township owns the landfill and operated it between 1955 and 1968
. The township then authorized Princeton Disposal Service to operate there until 1972. Browning-Ferris Industries of South Jersey then purchased the waste company and continued operations in Monroe until 1978, when EPA discovered the landfill caused leachate outbreaks to seep into a nearby street and ordered the site’s closure.
The landfill was consequently added to EPA’s National Priorities list for Superfund sites to expedite cleanup efforts. It was removed from the list in 1994. However, Monroe residents say that the landfill would leak an odorous chemical vapor in nearby homes possibly through the municipal sewer system.
Complaints Becoming More Frequent
EPA reported that the uptick in odor complaints began on August 4, which led to a public meeting with EPA and town officials later that month. Officials inspected the landfill and found no abnormalities at that time.
On September 23, town officials said that they observed an odor outbreak that persisted well into the next day. EPA shut off the leachate pipes completely in response.
Now that residents report smelling the odor more frequently in the last few weeks, and with so many residents working and studying from home, citizens and town officials are growing concerned about potential health effects related to the outbreaks.
The landfill is designed so that any residual liquid is dispersed through the sewer system. The dispersed liquid, known as leachate, was tested by EPA and was found to be unlikely to produce harmful gases. However, Monroe Township officials continue to push for more testing
and increased oversight from EPA.
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