Dredge Material Evaluation and Utilization Plan for New Jersey

Download Final Report

CAIT project no.: SROA RU3971

Fiscal Year: 2001/2002

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Ali Maher

External Author(s): Harry W. Janes

Sponsor(s): Rutgers University


The continued operation and economic development of the port facilities and private terminals in the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area is vital to the regional economy. Moreover, the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the regional harbor natural resources are critical to the quality of life in the metropolitan area. In September 1997, the EPA closed an offshore Mud Dump site due to ecological risk from contaminated sediments dredged from commercial channels and berths along the NY/NJ Harbor and the Delaware River. The Mud Dump site had previously been designated for the disposal of more than 90% of the dredge material originating from the navigable waterways of NY/NJ Harbor in years prior to 1993 (based on information from NJMR). Consequently, this created a regional problem for management of the dredge sediment, thereby limiting the navigability and economic viability of the NY/NJ Harbor as the primary East Coast port of intermodal commerce. Since maintaining an adequate amount of draft in the navigable shipping channels and commercial berths is key to the use of these maritime assets, especially for the newly designed “deep draft” tankers, developing long-term plans for dredging and processing large volumes of sediment was a major goal of NJMR’s mission. Recent data provided by NJMR in June of 1999 indicates that between year 1999 and 2005, approximately 14 million cubic yards of material will be dredged from the New Jersey Harbor as part of the maintenance dredging, of which approximately 7.6 million (55%) is estimated to be contaminated (unsuitable for ocean disposal based on US Army Corps of Engineers [USACE] acute toxicity testing). In addition, the proposed deepening of the navigable channels will result in additional 34 million cubic yards of dredged material, of which  pproximately 7.8 million (25%) is estimated to be contaminated.

In October 1996, the Governors of New York and New Jersey signed a Joint Dredging Plan for the Port of New York & New Jersey. The objective of this plan is to promote greater certainty and predictability in the dredging project review process, and facilitate effective long-term, environmentally sound management strategies for dredged material management. The immediate term dredged material disposal options summarized in this plan for the contaminated dredged material, identified as “Category III” material, includes the Orion Mall project in Elizabeth, New Jersey and the Newark Bay borrow pits. Category III material is defined as the sediments that do not meet ocean-dumping criteria because of acute toxicity and the potential for significant bioaccumulation. The goals of the plan, specific to New Jersey, include the development of technologies related to the decontamination, sediment control, processing, beneficial reuse, and harbor sediment contamination reduction and remediation. Some of the beneficial reuse options identified in the plan for continued development include upland beneficial uses such as landfill cover/closure, construction material and hazardous site remediation. The beneficial reuse applications in the plan that would require decontamination prior to reuse of material contaminated above human and ecological risk criteria include use of the material in construction application as fill material, and as landfill cover applications. The plan also outlines New Jersey’s commitment to develop state sponsored transportation projects (e.g. NJDOT) utilizing dredged material in an average annual volume of up to 700,000 cubic yards.

In 1997, the State of New Jersey appointed the Dredging Project Facilitation Task Force (DPFTF) under the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission (formerly Department of Commerce and Economic Development). The purpose of the DPFTF was to assist NJMR in establishing priorities for dredging projects in accordance with their economic benefit to the Maritime Commerce in the State. The implementing legislation for the Port of New Jersey Bond Act of 1996 also requires that the DPFTF review recommendations and proposals for the funding, development and construction of disposal, treatment, or processing facilities for dredged material, decontamination and treatment technologies, dredging of navigation channels in the Port District and dredging of navigation channels statewide. As part of their charter, the office of NJMR issued a request for proposals (RFP) in March 1998 to seek out innovative and reliable sediment decontamination technologies, which produce marketable end products at a full-scale cost of no more that $35.00 per cubic yard. The regional need for seeking viable solutions for dredge management was recently emphasized after the recent decision by NY State to require GE to Dredge Hudson River for and clean up of PCB contamination will lead to a $700M, 5 to 10 year effort which will provide opportunities for research and development of novel beneficial reuse of dredge materials.