Another silt plume appears in the Barnegat Bay

    A silt plume in the Barnegat Bay off Kearny Avenue in Seaside Heights on Friday

    A silt plume in the Barnegat Bay off Kearny Avenue in Seaside Heights on Friday

    The fourth silt plume in less than a year appeared Friday in the Barnegat Bay off Seaside Heights, an environmental organization spokesperson said. 

    According to Save Barnegat Bay Executive Director Britta Wenzel, her organization discovered the plume off the Kearny Avenue bay beach on Friday and reported it to the state Department of Environmental Protection. 

    Wenzel says the impacted area, at the borough’s public dock, is a “critical winter flounder breeding area.”

    This is the fourth significant silt plume in the Barnegat Bay since August, a story which NewsWorks and Jersey Shore Hurricane News (JSHN) have reported on extensively. 

    The latest discharge occurred as a contractor was cleaning a storm drainage system, one of nine that extend along Ocean County’s northern barrier island, in which silt has built up over recent months, state Department of Transportation spokesman Stephen Shapiro told 

    The spokesman, who said the discharge was clean, added that the pumps were turned off and would be cleaned out. A DEP spokesman said inspectors would investigate. 

    The newly installed pump stations along the Barnegat Bay from Bay Head to South Seaside Park are a component of the state’s Route 35 Reconstruction Project and are intended to pump out treated water into the bay.  

    “The new underground storm water drainage system is a tremendous enhancement over what existed prior to this project,” Schapiro told NewsWorks in August. “The new system is designed to handle 25-year storms, while the previous drainage could only handle 2-year storms.”

    But the “elaborate and expensive drainage system,” said William deCamp, Jr., Save Barnegat Bay founder in August, “has spectacularly failed, and the consequences for the public and the environment are great.”

    Last October, another Department of Transportation spokesman, Kevin Israel, reiterated that a third discharge in Seaside Park was not polluted. A test by the Ocean County Health Department in August determined that the water was safe.

    “While the work on the pump stations is being completed, it is possible that there may be some silt discharged into the bay, which is clean,” he said. 

    According to Israel, the drainage system, which includes 76 manufactured treatment devices, or MTDs, that separate trash, oils, and sediment out of the water before it flows to the bay, proved itself in preventing “massive flooding” during the early October nor’easter. 

    Israel said some continue to make false allegations about the project, adding that “much of the unfounded criticism relates to elements of the drainage system that are still under construction and not yet complete.”

    Save Barnegat Bay insisted then, however, that the situation is an “environmental disaster,” citing polluted ground water infiltration damaging the Barnegat Bay estuary. 

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