Published: Press of Atlantic City, Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The beach replenishment project that went awry in Surf City in 2006 has prompted the Jersey Shore Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Surfrider Foundation will be in federal court Thursday arguing for a preliminary injunction to stop replenishment on Long Branch beaches for fear of contaminated sand being pumped in off the coast.
The Surfrider Foundation filed a lawsuit a few weeks ago citing concerns that sand the corps will pump in from a site several miles off Sea Bright could be contaminated. More than 1,200 World War I-era military munitions were pumped ashore during the Surf City beach replenishment project. A cleanup of the beaches will cost $17 million, the corps has said.
The Surfrider Foundation is seeking a full battery of testing before the material is placed on the beach. If the tests show any contamination, the chapter wants the Army Corps to choose a different borrow area and thoroughly test there as well.
In the lawsuit, the Surfrider Foundation said a borrow site the corps will use for the Long Branch project is closed to shellfishing due to fecal coliform levels. Several miles farther east was the largest offshore sewage sludge dump site in the country, where sewage sludge was dumped for decades, according to John Weber, northeast regional manager of the Surfrider Foundation.
“All of this concerns us and makes us think the material should be tested,” said Surfrider volunteer Brian Lynch. “We are not saying this material is definitely contaminated. We just think it should be tested so we can know it is safe. Look what happened on Long Beach Island.”
After munitions were pumped ashore in Surf City, the Surfrider Foundation said the corps clearly doesn’t always know what is in the areas from which it takes sand.
“As a result, we got World War I munitions pumped onto the beach, closing beaches and leaving taxpayers with $17 million cleanup bill,” Lynch said.
Before a cleanup of this magnitude happens in Long Branch, the Surfrider Foundation said, the corps should test the sand for contamination.
“I think most people will be surprised to learn this sand is never tested for any chemical contaminants at all, and it is not tested for fecal bacteria or anything like that,” said Stephanie Rinaldi, chairwoman of the Surfrider chapter. “People, especially kids, come into close contact with sand on beaches, so we need to know it is clean.”
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