Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, February 2005


Permit Violoation and NJDEP Stop-Work Order

In order to keep our waterways safe for boaters and ships, marinas and channels must be periodically dredged.  Dredging and the management of the material is a necessity and it must be done in an environmentally sound manner.


On December 16, 2004, the Atlantic Highlands Harbor Commission was issued a permit by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) for maintenance dredging of the marina, disposal of dredged material into the nearby existing Confined Disposal Facility (CDF), and discharge of water into Sandy Hook Bay.  The NJDEP permit contained certain requirements due to environmental concerns.  Shortly thereafter, dredging began and the project was underway.

Permit Violations

Clean Ocean Action (COA) visited the site of the dredging project on December 29 and observed numerous violations of the permit, including:

  • The permit required a 24-hour settling period because of contamination  concerns to allow sediment to settle to the bottom so that only the clear water is discharged into Sandy Hook Bay.  However, the dredged  material (a slurry mix of sediment and water) was pumped into the CDF and then discharged into the harbor simultaneously.
  • The permit also required that measures be taken to prevent scouring and soil erosion at the discharge point.  Yet, as a result of the lack of protective measures, severe scouring and soil erosion occurred from the  point of discharge at the base of the CDF into the Bay (see photo).  Thus, sediment washed into the Bay creating pollution and redistributing mud to another part of the Bay, potentially requiring dredging in the future.
  • The permit required placement of a silt fence around the perimeter of the CDF to protect the wetlands and adjacent waters from contamination.  However, in several places, the silt fencing was breached and contaminated sediments flowed directly into the wetlands.

COA contacted Atlantic Highlands Mayor Donoghue and Joe Reynolds of the Atlantic Highlands Environmental Commission to alert them of the problems.  A short time later, Mayor Donoghue informed COA that he conferred with the Harbor Master, Bill Bate, who agreed to stop the dredging shortly. 


The next day COA contacted the NJDEP enforcement officer, Tammy DiGiacomo, who issued a stop-work order on December 30.  Currently, NJDEP is assessing further enforcement actions. 


COA will work with local citizens, NJDEP, and Atlantic Highlands and the Harbor Commission to resolve these matters and develop an environmentally sound dredged material management plan for the future.


49 Avenel Blvd.
Long Branch, NJ 07740

Field Office:

Gateway National Recreation Area
Sandy Hook, New Jersey

Voice: (732) 872-0111
FAX: (732) 872-8041

Candid/Guidestar "Essential nonprofit data, tools, and resources"

Charity Navigator, "Your Guide to Intelligent Giving"