Roxbury Township, located just 45 minutes west of Jersey City, New Jersey, has been suffering from the pungent odors of a nearby landfill for a year now. Residents of this community of over 23,000 people have been living with the on and off smell of rotten eggs emanating from the Fenimore landfill. The site itself has been shut for many years, but has recently started leaking hydrogen sulfide on a regular basis.

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the many byproducts of organic decay and is a notoriously foul-smelling molecule. It carries such a powerful smell that only a few parts per billion are required for people to detect it in the air. Residents of Roxbury, including children, have reported symptoms of nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, and respiratory problems as a result of breathing in the noxious odor.

The site owners, Strategic Environmental Partners, originally set out to cap the landfill a year ago as a prelude to installing a solar facility on the property. The Department of Environmental Protection allowed the company to dump construction debris at the site, which is now believed to have caused the hydrogen sulfide leaks. These leaks continued for a year, before the DEP took control of the site last summer. So far the DEP has installed nine monitors throughout Roxbury that monitor hydrogen sulfide levels in the air. They have also installed oxidizers at the site to burn up the hydrogen sulfide before it can reach the air. Additional scrubbers have been installed to remove sulfur dioxide, another bad odor causing chemical.

The SEP claims that they were close to resealing the site before the DEP stepped in. Meanwhile, the DEP is attempting to collect the costs of its intervention from Strategic Environmental Partners in court. Meanwhile, residents of Roxbury continue to experience the terrible odors of the landfill. The Department of Health reports that there are no long-term risks associated with being exposed to hydrogen sulfide, but does acknowledge that the symptoms reported by residents can be caused by it.

Source: New