The 60-acre GEMS landfill in Gloucester Township, Camden County, was once one of the most notorious Superfund sites in New Jersey, contaminating a nearby stream and soil with volatile organic compounds, arsenic, barium, lead, and pesticides. Although the site has been closed since 1980 and mostly cleaned up since 2004, it still juts 100 feet above the local landscape as a symbol of the poorly managed landfills that once dotted many South Jersey towns.

On Wednesday, officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a 4.5-megawatt capacity solar array off Hickstown and New Brooklyn Erial Roads that they say will produce enough energy to power hundreds of homes. Construction will start Nov. 19 and is scheduled to finish by spring. “Today … Gloucester Township takes a gigantic leap forward in not only protecting our environment, but also taking one of the first Superfund sites in the nation, and making that site a beacon of sustainability,” said Mayor David R. Mayer.

The system will be built by Syncarpha Capital in partnership with Blue Sky Power, an energy consultant, and the township. The project entails building a 25-acre photovoltaic solar generation system on top of the existing cap for the landfill. Equipment includes modules, inverters, transformers, wiring, conduits, steel and aluminum racks, and rocks for ballast.

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Author: Frank Kummer, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Image: Tyger Williams, The Philadelphia Inquirer