Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, September 2004

Kristen Milligan, Ph.D., 732-872-0111,

For more information or to review comments, visit Action Alerts at

HARS Proposal

The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued a Public Notice (FP63-AKCA2-2004) proposing to place dredged material from the second construction contract area of the upper Arthur Kill Federal Navigation Channel in the Port of New York and New Jersey at the Historic Area Remediation Site (HARS).  The proposal includes the placement of 804,000 cubic yards of Pleistocene red-brown clay dredged material and approximately 83,500 cubic yards of Pleistocene glacial till dredged material at HARS.  


The red-brown clay has been determined by federal agencies to be HARS suitable.  Also, the Pleistocene age glacial till is deep enough to have been isolated from sources of contaminants and has been adequately characterized as HARS suitable by previous testing in the vicinity.  A joint Memorandum for the Record on August 26, 2003, between US Environmental   Protection Agency (USEPA) Region 2, and USACE New York District, entitled "Joint Federal Position on Testing of Glacial Till Dredged Materials from Selected Areas of New York - New Jersey Harbor," establishes this determination.  As such, further project-specific testing of glacial till, including the till in this project, is not required.  The public comment period ends September 13.

Toxins in Fish - Revisited

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) released the final work plan, "Routine Monitoring Program for Toxics in Fish: Estuarine and Marine Waters," for using $500,000 to monitor toxics in estuarine and marine fish.  COA submitted comments to NJDEP on its draft plan in April (see May Ocean Advocate).  Though still limited, this study will indeed help update and address public health consumption of certain fish and shellfish (American Eel, Blue Crab, White Perch, White Catfish, Striped Bass, Bluefish, and Lobster).  Upon review by COA, NJDEP made slight improvements from the draft to the final work plan:

  • Increasing the number of fish-eating birds (cormorants) to be tested for contaminants.  This is important since it may provide information about the risks to wildlife that fish sustain.
  • A subset of fish samples will be tested for polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), a flame retardant found in foam padding for furniture.
  • Scientists and public health officials are becoming alarmed at the rising levels of PBDEs found in breast milk. Despite these slight improvements, funding for this research is still disappointing.  This funding, when compared to the vast economic and ecosystem values that fish contribute to the state, is slim.
  • This work plan is also still limited in terms of addressing the extent of contamination in fish populations and other ecological threats from contamination, as well as acknowledging and addressing the sources of contamination causing advisories.

The plan states that draft fish advisory results are expected by 2005.  COA continues to argue for toxic assessments of marine life that measure toxics in fish tissues, including fillets, whole bodies, and internal organs, to assess ecological health.  Clearly, additional funding is needed to increase sampling sites and species, and monitoring for non-routine  contaminants. 


For a copy of the NJDEP Final Work Plan, go to the Division of Science, Research and Technology’s webpage at


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