Landfill attorney downplays residents’ concerns

TRENTON – An attorney for the Morris County landfill at the heart of today’s Senate hearing defended the site and downplayed residents’ criticisms.

Matthew Fredericks, an attorney representing Strategic Environmental Partners, which owns the Fenimore Landfill in Roxbury, said he doesn’t believe the chemicals emanated from the landfill pose a public health threat.

Sen. Anthony Bucco, (R-25), of Boonton, has sponsored bill S2617, which calls for capping and closing the Fenimore Landfill.  

Fredericks pointed out that Roxbury has installed air quality monitors within its borders to measure the levels of hydrogen sulfide, the chemical at the root of the noxious odors. The levels are measured every 15 minutes, he told the Environment and Energy Committee.

Fredericks believes the air is safe for the public since the monitors rarely show the level surpassing the threshold that is considered safe for human detection.

“Whether or not it’s a health hazard, we believe the answer is no,” Fredericks said, a response that was met with groans by the packed crowd of Roxbury residents, which included many children. 

But the committee members would not buy his response.

“Let’s get past the BS,” said Sen. Jim Whelan, (D-2), of Atlantic City.

“We need to take action,” said Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman, (R-16), Somerville. The senator made a motion to release Bucco’s landfill bill, but committee Chairman Bob Smith, (D-17), of Piscataway said the bill was not ready, saying it was too vague and wouldn’t withstand “judicial scrutiny.”

Sen. Jennifer Beck, (R-11), Red Bank, also called for action.

“What’s happening to these folks in Roxbury is really ridiculous,” he said. “We’re going to address this. We’re going to fix this.”

Roxbury officials earlier told senators that it was so bad that schoolchildren walking to bus stops had to wear masks.