ROXBURY, NJ – A Roxbury-based environmental group wants to be a part of the ongoing court battle between the owner of the former Fenimore Landfill and the state.
Contending neither the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) nor township officials have adequately protected the residents of Roxbury in the matter, the Roxbury Environmental Action Coalition (R.E.A.C.T.) filed a motion in Superior Court this week asking for inclusion in the litigation.
The case, being heard in Morristown by Superior Court Judge Rosemary Ramsay, has the potential of wresting control of the property away from the DEP and returning it to Strategic Environmental Partners (SEP), the company that dumped the material producing the noxious hydrogen sulfide odors.
“The DEP and the township are both in litigation with SEP and, as a result, several factors have significant potential to bias a remediation approach or settlement that may not be in the best interests of Roxbury residents,” said R.E.A.C.T. President Bob Schultz.
The DEP seized the property from SEP in 2013 and, as a means of stopping the odors, installed a cap over the site and erected a multi-million-dollar oxidizer that is burning off the trapped gas. SEP has argued, successfully so far, that the DEP’s seizure of the site was illegal.
Initially, the matter was between only the DEP and SEP. However, Roxbury recently won Ramsay’s approval to join the matter. R.E.A.C.T. now seeks similar treatment.
R.E.A.C.T.’s motion to intervene was filed by lawyer R. William Potter of Princeton. He asserted R.E.A.C.T. would have a “constructive and independent” role in the litigation because the organization has been steadfast in fighting for the interests of Roxbury residents concerned about Fenimore.
“It’s the residents – not township officials, the DEP or SEP – who can’t escape the direct impact of decisions made about the Fenimore landfill site,” said R.E.A.C.T. Vice President Bill Morrocco. “Residents want their safe, peaceful and rural township back.”
Morrocco said R.E.A.C.T. members chose to live in Roxbury believing it was a town “free from industrial exhaust stacks and free from the threats of air and water pollution.” He said these people “demand a permanent solution that will restore the community and rebound property values, something that no party has brought to the table yet.”