Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin expressed his disappointment with a federal court ruling that dismisses New Jersey’s demands that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers update environmental studies and take other steps to ensure its Delaware River deepening project does not harm the river.
“We are extremely disappointed with this ruling,” said Commissioner Martin. “We remain firm in our commitment to protecting the waters of the Delaware River and steadfast in our position that the Army Corps must do a much better job of analyzing contaminant levels and potential impacts on the river and its wetlands and aquatic resources before proceeding with this project.”
“What the river and the people of New Jersey deserve is forthright, current scientific information and analyses * not murky, outdated data the Army Corps has been using to push ahead with this questionable project,” added Commissioner Martin. “We have serious reservations about the decision and are reviewing it to determine whether to challenge or appeal.”
U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano, presiding in Trenton, today denied the DEP’s motions for summary judgment challenging the deepening project on grounds the Army Corps did not satisfy requirements of important federal environmental laws.
The DEP argued the project should not move ahead because the Army Corps used outdated and inadequate environmental analyses and a perfunctory review process. Recent DEP tests show river sediments contain elevated levels of PCBs, metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other contaminants that the Army Corps has not addressed.
Despite opposition from New Jersey, the Army Corps launched the project to deepen the river’s 102-mile shipping channel from its current depth of 40 feet to a depth of 45 feet in early March, completing a stretch of the river in waters controlled by the state of Delaware. The Army Corps plans to dispose the sediments in disposal facilities located in southern New Jersey, including areas near ecologically sensitive creeks and wetlands.