Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, August 2005

Artificial Reef Monitoring Program

     COA is working with the NJ Council of Dive Clubs and the NJ Historical Divers Association to develop an artificial reef monitoring program using volunteer divers.  Richard Stockton College of NJ expressed interest in participating in the program through their underwater research course offered in the fall semester.  The main objective of the program is to monitor subway cars used as artificial reefs off NJ’s coast for their durability and effectiveness as reef material.  A meeting on the topic is tentatively scheduled for August.  If you are interested in participating in the development or implementation of this program, contact Jennifer Samson at (732) 872-0111 or

PCBs on Ships used for Artificial Reefs

     The US Navy and the State of Florida proposed the sinking of the ex-Orinsky (a WW2-era aircraft carrier) off the coast of Pensacola, FL without the removal of any solid polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  As proposed, a total of 700 pounds of PCBs would be left onboard.  The Navy applied for PCB disposal approval from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  EPA set up a Scientific Advisory Panel to review the request and determine whether it is appropriate.  The solid PCBs to be left on board the ex-Orinsky exceed the 50 parts per billion (ppb) limit set in EPA’s “Draft National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs”.  Comments submitted by COA on this Draft Guidance urged EPA not to allow any PCBs left onboard ships prior to sinking, considering the toxic and bioaccumulative nature of PCBs.

     The PCB-Artificial Reef Risk Assessment Consultative Panel hosted a public conference call July 22 and will hold a meeting in Washington, DC in August.  COA participated in the call when EPA provided information on the documents and procedures they will use to make a final decision on whether or not to allow the sinking.  EPA made it clear that this is a precedent-setting application, and the Navy stated that if EPA grants the approval, they will pursue a National PCB Disposal Approval for over 24 retired vessels for use as artificial reef material. 

     Helpful links: Scientific Advisory Panel review, visit; Navy documents on the ex-Orinsky, PCB leach rates and human health, and ecological impacts, visit


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