Little Egg Harbor Opens Old Landfill to Receive Mountains of Storm Debris
In the wake of the avalanche of storm-related trash, Little Egg Harbor Township applied for and was granted an emergency permit from the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection to reopen a closed landfill on Stafford Forge Road off Route 539, west of the Garden State Parkway.
Business Administrator Garrett Loesch said 600 homes in the township, located mostly in the Mystic Island and Osborn Island sections, were severely damaged and altogether, 4,000 homes had been affected in some way by Hurricane Sandy. Loesch said FEMA estimates the cost of disposing of the resulting household and construction debris at $10 million.
“The amount of debris will fill a 30-yard Dumpster for the average house,” he said. The cost of disposal is approximately $80 a ton, he added.
It is expected that FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of the township bill.
The reopened landfill is a transfer station. The township has contracted with Mathis Construction and Advantage Construction to take the trash off the streets and dump it at the site, where it is crushed and loaded into trucks bound for Hainesport, then loaded onto railroad cars headed for parts west, explained Mayor John Kehm.
“We have 60 roll-off containers, loaders and backhoes, picking up the trash and dumping it into containers on side roads,” said Kehm. “Then it is transported to our landfill with DEP approval. Three hundred and twenty-five tons are hauled every day: beds, furniture, rugs. It’s very, very heavy.”
Kehm said reopening the landfill to expedite trash removal was necessary to keep the roads passable for emergency vehicles and also was psychologically beneficial to residents. “We’re keeping everyone in our thoughts and prayers,” he said. “Not seeing their entire household contents in the street makes people feel a little bit better.”
The landfill area was capped in the 1980s and had most recently been proposed as a regional shooting range for police and law enforcement agencies. “The DEP has been very supportive” of using the landfill, said Loesch. “We have installed internal fencing and silt fencing to stop the wind-blown debris. For now we have it contained to six acres, but we have been approved for 45 acres.”
The site, adjacent to the state’s Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area, is not being used for garbage disposal or for trees or brush. Trees and brush may be taken to the public works yard on Route 539 east of the Parkway. Some recycling efforts are being made at the site, with workers pulling metal from the piles.
“Our public works superintendent, Patrick Donnelly, has been very proactive,” said Loesch. Kehm thanked workers for their tireless efforts.
Through a shared-services agreement, Eagleswood Township has joined Little Egg in the venture, but not Tuckerton.
“Tuckerton is in the process of getting DEP approval for a temporary disposal area on Carroll Avenue in Tuckerton Beach,” said Borough Administrator Jenny Gleghorn. “Our roll-off truck is putting the trash there, where it is loaded into a 100-yard Dumpster to take to Hainesport, near Lumberton.”
Gleghorn said trash is accumulating on the streets from the 685 homes affected by the storm. “Our engineer, Frank Little, said the worst-case senario is it will cost the borough $1,125,000; FEMA estimated it at $3.6 million. Unless something changes (in government), FEMA normally reimburses 75 percent.”
— Pat Johnson