Freeholders approve emergency contracts for work at reclamation center

The Monmouth County Board of Freeholders has approved a resolution awarding $2.6 million in emergency contracts for an odor control corrective action plan at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center, Tinton Falls.

The resolution was passed during the freeholders’ meeting on Feb. 19 in Freehold Borough. Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone, Deputy Director Patrick Impreveduto, Freeholder Lillian Burry, Freeholder Sue Kiley and Freeholder Gerry Scharfenberger voted to take the action.

According to the resolution, to determine the cause of a strong, uncontrolled odor that has been emanating from the landfill since the beginning of the year, the gas collection system must be brought completely on line, the leachate plant must be be redesigned and the site must be dewatered, meaning water will be removed from solid material and soil.

To accomplish those tasks, $2.5 million will be paid to Waste Management Inc.; $130,000 will be paid to Air Care Technology Inc.; and $30,000 will be paid to Natural Systems Utilities, a company which specializes in water reclamation and reuse innovation, according to the resolution.

As the freeholders were taking action relating to the reclamation center, several residents of Tinton Falls addressed the facility with the county’s elected officials and professionals.

Resident Ryan Mickendrow asked the freeholders to examine alternatives to continuing to dump garbage at the facility in Tinton Falls.

“I think the county facility should be closed until a new plan is adopted,” he said.

Mickendrow said that in certain cases, the odor coming from the landfill “depends on the time of day.”

The freeholders also heard from Leo Lomangino, who is Tinton Falls’ representative on the Monmouth County Solid Waste Advisory Council.

“People are having trouble selling their homes due to the bad publicity” surrounding the reclamation center, he said. “It’s tragic what is transpiring there. We (residents) want to be good neighbors, but it’s a two-way street. I appreciate your efforts.”

Lomangino said the county is continuing to develop and he suggested the freeholders form a committee that would examine options relating to the disposal of solid waste.

Resident Marisa Scott told the freeholders she recently moved to Tinton Falls and can smell the odor from the landfill in her home at various times.

Scott asked questions about the operation of the facility and engaged in a dialogue with the freeholders, during which she said, “I want to be a part of changing things in a good way.”

Regarding a suggestion that had been made to consider privatizing the operation of the reclamation center, Scott said, “I caution you on looking at privatization. Privatization does not give us this (public) forum” to ask questions about what is taking place at the landfill.

Scott told the freeholders and members of the public that if a private company was running the landfill it would not, in her opinion, open its doors and allow residents to question how the facility was being operated.

Arnone thanked Mickendrow, Lomangino and Scott for participating in the discussion and said, “At the end of the day it’s a county landfill. It’s not our job to kick the can down the road. It is our responsibility to fix it.”

“Residents can be proud of the job that has been done there, but (in this case) the ball was dropped,” Lomangino said.

“It’s still not perfect, but perfect is what we expect,” said Arnone.

He said the freeholders would move forward with a committee and examine options regarding solid waste.

Michael Fitzgerald, the county counsel, said the county, by law, must provide solid waste collection services.

Arnone said transporting garbage to a landfill outside Monmouth County would result in an additional expense.

Impreveduto told those in attendance, “We will get this right, but it won’t happen in three days. I promise you, we are going to get this right.”

In January, residents in Tinton Falls and in surrounding municipalities began reporting that an overwhelming odor was coming from the reclamation center, 6000 Asbury Ave., Tinton Falls.

Residents have said the odor has a negative impact on their quality of life and said the odor can at times be detected in their homes.

County officials have said the odor is caused by landfill gas, leachate (water that comes into contact with garbage) and a four-month construction project at the reclamation center that concluded on Jan. 15.