Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos was fired up today while leading a march and protest calling for the shutdown of the Keegan Landfill, exclaiming that the “80-foot mound of garbage” could define Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) legacy if he doesn’t act soon.
“Where is Murphy! Where is Murphy! Where is Murphy!,” an excited group of hundreds of residents chanted at the entrance of the landfill, holding up signs that read “Close Keegan,” “No Dumping,” and “Save the Earth.”
Santos, one of many decked out with a florescent yellow vest and touting a white and blue megaphone, couldn’t have been anymore clear when calling on the governor to take action.
“There’s one person, with a single signature, that can shut this down immediately and that’s the governor. This goes directly to the governor: Mr. Murphy, shut down this landfill,” he said to cheers and applause before a long chant of “shut it down” erupted.
“That’s an 80-foot mound of garbage. That is his legacy. Is that what he wants … a mound of garbage to be his legacy … Gov. Murphy: don’t make money from garbage, protect our environment!”
Local residents have voiced their concerns for months about the smell emanating from the 110-acres of dumping ground, with Santos indicating that the agency has violated state law for exceeding the allowable amount of hydrogen sulfide levels.
In an interview after the roughly hour-long march and protest, Santos, the Kearny mayor since 2000, said this is the most united he’s seem the community since he’s been in office and stressed the direct and immediate impact on people’s health.
” … This goes to our health: this is not just our quality of life anymore, this is about our public health. It’s why we have young children like this who joined us in this march, it’s why we have senior citizens who joined us, it’s why we have neighboring communities that have joined us: it’s about our health,” Santos exclaimed.
When asked why he felt it was important to call out Murphy directly, Santos said he felt he was getting misinformation from other members of his administration and it was time to relay the facts.
“I don’t think he’s getting the true story from the people that work with him. I don’t think his staff, the sports and exposition authority, none of them are telling them what’s going on. What’s going on here is regular reads of hydrogen sulfide that exceed 30 parts per billion (ppb) and that has health risks,” he stated.
“That’s affecting our health, so the state is poisoning us so the governor has to shut it down, so I’m hoping that [because of] this protest, he will listen to us and not the state officials who are misinforming him.”
The Town of Kearny filed a lawsuit against the NJSEA and the state Department of Environmental Protection on April 22nd, seeking all correspondence on the Keegan Landfill between the two agencies, hydrogen sulfide readings, how much money the landfill has earned since they reopened about a decade ago, among other things.
“They make $25 million a year, so they’ve made $250 million since they reopened this landfill: where did all that money go?,” he questioned.
An email to Murphy’s office was not immediately returned on Saturday afternoon.