DOWN THE SHORE (December 4, 2020)----The US Army Corps of Engineers is holding two virtual public meetings today on the proposed NY/NJ Harbor Deepening and Channel Improvements Draft Feasibility Study. The draft study shows that there will be “no significant impact” on the environment and natural resources. The plan looks at dredging a total of 33,238,000 cubic yards of material to deepen pathways to Elizabeth and Port Jersey. Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statement:
“The U.S. Army Corps wants to dump on our coast again. They are rushing forward with a plan that includes dredging 33 million cubic yards of contaminated dredged sediment. That’s 2.7 million dump trucks worth of material. They want to dump it in the ocean so that they don’t need to properly clean it up. This is dangerous because dumping the materials from the surface will re-suspend the sediment containing toxins back into the ocean. These sediments contain hazardous chemicals like PCBs, arsenic, lead, zinc, mercury, DDT, and dioxins. They should be working to dispose of these dredged materials in proper ways instead of cutting corners. We thought we ended ocean dumping 25 years ago. Now the Army Corp is trying to dump on New Jersey and threaten our water supply.
“This Feasibility Study found that there would be no significant impacts to fish, recreational resources, and the environment. That is ridiculous. This project will drastically impact New Jersey’s fisheries and water supply. They will be resuspending toxins in the water and dumping contaminated sediment in New Jersey. These contaminated sediments will be dumped in the ocean without being properly cleaned up. Dredging resuspends pollutants in the water, and dangerous toxins from dredged materials can make their way into the groundwater.
“This project is moving even faster than normal because of Trump’s recent NEPA rollbacks. NEPA was effective because the process does not delay jobs, includes public participation, and produces better projects that protect our environment, our health, and our economy. When there is a government project or money involved, the law requires a public process and an environmental review on whether it is needed. Now, with Trump’s changes, developers will be able to cut through the red tape.
“The Army Corps’ deepening project doesn’t make sense economically or environmentally. The total cost of this project is over $4 million dollars, but it would be a lot more money if they disposed of the dredged material properly. The Army Corps is trying to save money at the expense of our fisheries and our ocean. Instead of cutting corners to save money, the Army Corps should be working to properly clean the dredged sediment and potentially reuse it in a beneficial way. We cannot let them dump on our ocean again.”
NJ Sierra Club press release