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Freeholder updates residents on improvements at county landfill

TINTON FALLS – Work is continuing at the Monmouth County Reclamation Center as county officials seek to address a situation that has produced odors that are impacting the quality of life of residents in Tinton Falls and neighboring municipalities.

Tom Arnone, the director of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, sought to reassure residents that county officials are doing everything they can to remediate odors emanating from the reclamation center.

The reclamation center, which is located on Asbury Avenue, accepts household waste and commercial waste from all 53 of the county’s municipalities. The reclamation center does no accept construction debris.

Arnone was joined by Monmouth County Administrator Teri O’Connor and other county representative for a two-hour community meeting on May 13 in the Tinton Falls Municipal Center. The meeting had been requested by borough officials and residents.

Borough Administrator Mike Skudera opened the meeting by thanking residents, who filled the meeting room at town hall, for attending.

“The issue (of the landfill) goes back many years; it did not happen overnight,” Skudera said. “When you work together, you get things done. We are seeing progress, not from one person; progress comes from working as a team.”

Arnone called the issues at the reclamation center “a personal issue and a quality of life issue. It is a serious issue and I have more to do.”

He vowed not to let the issues revert back to conditions of several months ago, when residents were complaining of unbearable odors coming from the facility.

“I will take the heat for what happened,” Arnone said. “I ask you (residents) to be my partners. Tinton Falls is an outstanding community and we want to keep it that way.”

The freeholder director said a board would be formed and would provide Tinton Falls with local representation from the borough and from the Fox Chase, Park Place and Seabrook residential communities, as well as including a representative from the waste industry and two other borough residents.

The county facility has been a topic of discussion during 2019 as residents have dealt with odors emanating from the landfill.

Arie Kremen, of the Cornerstone Environmental Group, discussed ongoing projects at the 900-acre site. He said about 100 acres of the property are in use. Kremen said the freeholders have initiated construction of a new gas collection and control system to replace a system that was not functioning at an optimal level of service.

Kremen said environmental factors, including a level of rainfall during 2018 that far exceeded the annual average, contributed to the odors at the site. Remediation efforts have include the use of Neutralene to eliminate the odors.

Residents had an opportunity to ask questions and to make comments.

Nancy Fury of Wall Township said that on occasion, residents on her street can smell the odors coming from the landfill and told Arnone, “Our homes are our biggest investment. This is a huge concern to us. It is our lives.”

Samantha Francalancia of Tinton Falls said that at times, she can smell an odor coming from the landfill at night, which she defined as after 9 p.m.

Kremen said operations at the landfill cease in the late afternoon, but he acknowledged that environmental factors at the facility could produce an odor in the evening hours.

Arnone thanked Francalancia for bringing that specific issue to his attention and said it would be investigated.

“We will put resources to what is needed,” he said.

Other questions and suggestions from residents concerned the use of Neutralene, the possible use of a natural alternative to Neutralene, the ongoing testing of ground water and the negotiation of a new host community agreement that would provide Tinton Falls with a payment from the county for serving as the host municipality to the landfill.

The public comment portion of the meeting concluded with comments from Councilwoman Nancyanne Fama who said, “We have seen progress and we know this will not be solved overnight.”

Councilman Brock Siebert thanked the county representatives for holding the meeting in Tinton Falls.

“This has been a very effective, educational meeting. The work that has been done at the landfill has been done at light speed considering the way government works. Residents have told me the situation has improved,” Siebert said.

Mayor Vito Perillo thanked the county representatives for coming to the borough to bring residents and officials up to date on what has been done and will be done to improve the operation of the reclamation center.

O’Connor said residents who smell an odor coming from the reclamation center should call the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection hotline at 1-877-WARN-DEP. She said Monmouth County health inspectors would respond to the complaints.

Michael Fitzgerald, the county counsel, said the county has received a tort claim notice from an attorney who represents a group of residents. The notice indicates the residents may file a lawsuit against the county as a result of issues arising from the landfill.

Fitzgerald said the county is investigating the claims that have been made in the notice. A tort claim notice must be filed six months before legal action may be filed against the county, he said.

Arnone thanked residents for attending the meeting and said he would return in six months to provide an update on the work at the reclamation center.

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