Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Photo by Bill Senck

Thanks to the watchful citizens in the Deal area who, on Friday, February 19, posted pictures of material being dumped at the tide line and into the ocean at Phillips Avenue in Deal, NJ. Clean Ocean Action immediately contacted Federal, State, and Local agencies, prompting them to further investigate the matter. This is a summary of what we know so far, and what areas COA is investigating further.

 Photo by Phil Browne

The material is from the construction of a federal outfall project for Poplar Brook, which is a part of the ongoing Sea Bright to Manasquan Beach Erosion Control Project (specifically the Elberon to Loch Arbor reach of this massive project), along the coast of New Jersey.[1] It is not dredged material or part of the Federal beach replenishment project. This project is overseen by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). USACE contracted with Manson Construction Company.[2] Manson Construction Company subcontracted work on the construction of outfalls to Agate Engineering. COA is in the process of getting the contract and project specifications for this reach of the Beach Erosion Control Project; however what we do know is that the subcontractor was supposed to remove the material offsite and properly dispose of it.[3]

 Photo by Phil Browne

The sub-contractor, Agate Engineering, ILLEGALLY dumped the material on the beach and into the ocean in violation of its contract with the USACE, as well as several State and Federal environmental laws. This activity may have started as early as Wednesday, February 17, according to one eyewitness.[4] By the afternoon of the 19th, the US Army Corps had been notified by COA and NJDEP, and "the contractor was ordered immediately to stop work and begin removing the material out of the surf zone and relocating it upland until it could be properly disposed as is required by the contract plans and specifications.”[5]

COA was also told on February 19th by a NJDEP source that NJDEP investigators were undertaking independent sampling of the material. Unfortunately, after speaking with other officials at NJDEP on Wednesday, the 24th, there seems to be a discrepancy regarding whether NJDEP actually undertook sampling and testing of the material or not. COA will further investigate this important public health matter, and work to get independent sampling results of the material.

On Monday, the 22 of February, Clean Ocean Action visited the site to check on the progress made in the cleanup:

 photo by Zach Lees
Photo by Zach Lees

We discovered that the contractor had merely moved what was left of the material that had not washed away a block to the south (Ocean Lane) and a bit further up the beach away from the water, as well as sprinkled some clean sand on top of some of the piles of muck. However, there was no containment surrounding the pile, so the material was exposed to wind, waves, and tides, especially from a full moon nor'easter predicted for the next day. COA once again contacted State and Federal agencies to ensure that a real solution to this dirty dilemma was put into place.

By Monday afternoon, NJDEP Spokesperson Larry Hanja stated that NJDEP issued a notice of violation of the Waterfront Development Act and the Coastal Area Facility Review Act to Agate Engineering, however the specifics of the violation including penalty amounts are not yet known.[6]

On Tuesday (February 23) we returned to the site (in the early afternoon which was around low tide) and discovered the contractor had put a 1 to 2 foot small black woven material “silt fence” around the pile, and were in the process of using a bulldozer to push up a sand berm around the pile to shield it from the incoming storm:

 Photo by Zach Lees

Unfortunately, the waterline from that morning’s high tide seemed to have come right up and onto the pile, potentially releasing more of the material into the ocean. Furthermore, the waterline at low tide was so close to the pile of material that it seemed likely that the next high tide would certainly put the sand berm and pile of material in line with the rising water. Furthermore, the pile of material from the outfall construction had grown even larger, with even more of the dark and debris filled material added to the original pile:

Photo by Zach Lees

We again visited Tuesday Afternoon (at low tide), Tuesday Evening (approaching high tide) and Wednesday Morning (just after high tide),  to make sure the high tide and storm surge did not breach the sand berm. Fortunately, the berm appears to be doing its job of containing the material from the ocean for the time being:

 Photo by Zach Lees
Photo by Zach Lees

Photo by Zach Lees 

As stated earlier, the material pile had grown in size from Monday to Tuesday afternoon, as the subcontractor appears to have no other place to put this material (other than illegally dumping it into the ocean). We are working to make sure the pile of muck is removed from the beach and properly disposed of as quickly as possible, however, for the time being, we can only continue to investigate and monitor the situation to make sure that the material pile is properly managed where it is.

On Wednesday, February 24, COA requested from NJDEP and received a copy of the Notice of Violation. COA is continuing to investigate and communicate with State and Federal officials to ensure that all potential violations are enforced, and that the full breadth of the law is applied.

According to the Notice of Violation provided to COA, Agate Engineering has 30 days from the date of the notice (February 22) to remove the excavated material from its location and dispose of the material in an "approved solid waste disposal facility". The notice does state that penalties "may be assessed on a daily basis". COA has been told that no penalties have been yet assessed, however, we are advocating for the strictest penalties allowed by law, as well as advocating that NJDEP pursue legal relief under the Clean Water Act in addition to the violations already noticed.

COA will continue to monitor the site of the illegal dumping and clean up work, continue to seek access to all pertinent documents and information, remain in contact with State and Federal officials, advocate for a thorough and environmentally friendly clean up, and ensure information to the public is as up to date as possible.

We have attached the Notice of Violation NJDEP sent to Agate Engineering on February 22. See below:

[1], “The Sea Bright to Manasquan Project covers 21 miles of the New Jersey shoreline and is the largest beach nourishment project ever undertaken by the Corps of Engineers, and is the largest beachfill project, in terms of volume, in the world.”

[3] See USACE Program Support Specialist Email to Clean Ocean Action, Wednesday, February 24, 2016.
[4] COA talked with Bill Senck, who also took photographs of this activity and worked with COA and press to document this activity.
[5] See USACE Program Support Specialist Email to Clean Ocean Action, Wednesday, February 24, 2016.
[6] See Poplar Brook Notice of Violation, NJDEP February 22, 2016

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