ROXBURY, NJ — The main odor-elimination system at the former Fenimore Landfill in Ledgewood is scheduled to be shut off for two weeks for maintenance, but officials do not expect plumes of noxious sulfur dioxide to drift over Roxbury.
The work, expected to begin April 26, involves replacing the liner in the main oxidizer installed at the site in 2013, said Roxbury Township. The oxidizer burns off sulfur dioxide (H2S) being created at the former dump since 2012 when construction debris from Hurricane Sandy was buried at the site.
Wet wallboard in the dumped loads began to rot resulting in the H2S which wafted down from the 19-acre site blanketing large swaths of Ledgewood and Succasunna with rotten egg odor. The smells stopped after the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) installed a cover — or cap — over the dumped material and began collecting and oxidizing the H2S.
“DEP has been operating the gas collection and treatment system and conducting maintenance on the impermeable cap, both of which are functioning as designed,” said Roxbury’s statement. “The impermeable cap continues to contain the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas, virtually eliminating any fugitive emissions, and the gas collection and treatment system is effectively oxidizing the H2S and removing the sulfur dioxide (SO2) produced when the H2S is oxidized. The system continues to operate 24/7.”
However, the oxidizer now needs its liner replaced, said the township, noting oxidizer liners have lifespans of five to ten years. It said the new liner was delivered to the site on April 14.
“It is not anticipated that the oxidizer replacement work will result in the release or off-site migration of landfill gases,” the township said.
It said the system was essentially placed in overdrive for the past two weeks in an effort to remove as much built-up H2S before the main oxidizer was turned off for the liner replacement. A backup oxidizer is now being used and will stay in operation until the main system is brought back to life, said the township.
Mulch on Hand, Just in Case
The DEP “will also increase monitoring onsite to ensure that no fugitive emissions are occurring,” said Roxbury. It said the state will “place a mulch mixture over any area where fugitive emissions begin to occur,” explaining that this material “will act to filter and depress any hydrogen sulfide emissions during the process change.”
Although Roxbury said the levels of H2S at the landfill “have dramatically decreased” since the cap, gas collection equipment and treatment system were installed, H2S “is still present at the landfill in unsafe concentrations.”
Those who start smelling H2S can report the odor to the DEP by calling 1-877-WARN-DEP, said Roxbury. “Any complaint should describe the odor,” it said. “DEP inspectors will determine if an inspection is needed to determine the source of the odor."
If the inspectors can find the source of the smell, they can "take enforcement action accordingly," the township said. "With the cap and treatment system operating at the site, it is highly unlikely Fenimore is the source of any odor,” it added.
The state has considered replacing the oxidizers with a more passive “iron sponge” system of H2S removal. In 2018, Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall said the switch might happen by 2020. That never happened.
“It is our understanding that DEP still plans to install the ‘iron sponge,” Roxbury Township Manager John Shepherd said in an email. “I believe that, while the levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas have been significantly decreased since the installation of the oxidizer, the levels are not yet low enough for the iron sponge technology. The township is looking forward to the iron sponge installation since that unit will be less visible to surrounding property owners.”
Shepherd said the township has not received any H2S odor complaints since he became manager nearly four years ago.
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