Located along the border of Chester and Washington Townships in Morris County, New Jersey, the 65-acre Combe Fill South Landfill operated as a municipal landfill from the 1940s until 1981. In addition to household wastes, the landfill also accepted chemicals, industrial wastes, septic tank wastes, sewage sludge, and waste oils. It was owned by the Filiberto family, who later formed J. Filiberto Sanitation, Inc., until the early 1970s when ownership was transferred to Chester Hills, Inc. after a fish kill caused by leachate discharges into nearby Trout Brook. The Combe Fill Corporation (CFC) acquired the landfill in 1978. Procedures at the landfill under CFC’s management, including the acceptance of pharmaceutical wastes and fiber drums containing organic chemicals, violated a number of New Jersey’s solid waste administrative codes.
In 1981, CFC began clearing 100 acres of forested wetlands to the west of the landfill until Chester and Washington Townships filed suit to stop the expansion. The non-profit Upper Raritan Watershed Association (a predecessor of the Raritan Headwaters Association) and local residents began collecting samples from monitoring wells and surface water. When groundwater contamination was discovered, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued an order to stop the landfilling. CFC went bankrupt by the end of the year before the landfill could be properly closed. In 1983, the Combe Fill South Landfill was added to the Superfund Program’s National Priorities List (NPL). The landfill has been capped and a groundwater extraction and treatment system has been operational since 1997.
Combe Fill South is located just north of the headwaters of Trout Brook, a New Jersey Category 1 (C1) trout production stream and tributary of the Lamington River. To the east of the landfill is a small, forested wetland at the headwaters of an unnamed tributary that is classified as a C1 trout maintenance stream. A Natural Resources Damage Assessment determined that hazardous substances in the landfill have resulted in a 230-acre plume of contaminated groundwater. Leachate discharged from the landfill had also degraded 11.7 acres of forested wetlands, and caused injuries to the surface water, benthic macroinvertebrates, and fish in approximately 1.9 miles of Trout Brook and 1.5 miles of the unnamed tributary. In 2009, a settlement was reached providing compensation for the injuries to natural resources caused by the release of hazardous substances from the landfill.