Earlier today, the Town of Kearny filed a lawsuit against the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) alleging the State violated the Town’s rights under the Environmental Rights Act and the due process clause of the State and Federal constitutions by repeatedly issuing year-to-year temporary permits for operation of the landfill by the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) without following the mandated process for public hearings and without adequately funding escrow accounts for closure and post-closure costs as required by State law. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment providing the following relief: enjoining the State DEP from issuing further permits to the NJSEA; ordering the State DEP to produce a certified accounting of the closure and post-closure escrow accounts for the Keegan Landfill and to immediately fund any deficiencies; and ordering the State DEP to produce a schedule for the capping of the landfill with an impermeable liner.
According to Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos, the Town’s legal action seeks to hold the State accountable for its inadequate oversight of the State-owned and State-operated Keegan Landfill: “Of all people, the State should comply with its own laws. But year after year, the DEP renewed the NJSEA’s permit to operate the landfill on a temporary basis so as to evade the adequate funding of an escrow account for closure and post-closure costs, and to avoid being held accountable to the public through public hearings. The DEP allowed the NJSEA to increase the maximum height of the landfill from 60 to 100 feet with no public review. It allowed dumping at the site without adequate controls. The very State agency entrusted by law to protect our environment and our health failed to do just that by not enforcing the law against another State agency. It did just the opposite – the DEP enabled the operation of a State enterprise that is now having deleterious impacts on public health and the environment.”