A Cape May County construction company is facing civil citations for illegally dumping material late last week on a Monmouth County beach, a state official said.
Agate Construction Co., Inc. of Ocean View was cited by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for violating the Waterfront Development Act and the Coastal Area Facility Review Act, said DEP spokesman Larry Hajna.
The company, a subcontractor for an Army Corps of Engineers outfall construction project in Deal, excavated sediment from the Poplar Brook and illegally deposited it on the beach and in the ocean, the spokesman said.
An outfall is a pipeline that discharges water. According to an U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fact sheet on the project, the intent is to mitigate flooding through the appropriate channeling of water.
Hajna tells NewsWorks that Agate “has to demonstrate compliance” with the two state acts, adding that the citations do not carry specific penalties but are to ensure that the company removes the material from the beach.
But the investigation is not yet closed. “Penalties could be part of the further process,” he said.
As of late yesterday afternoon, a “large amount” of the excavated substance remained on the beach, according to Jersey Shore chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, which called the material “disgusting” and posted a gallery on Facebook.
Testing is underway to determine if any of the material is contaminated. Observers describe the content from the Poplar Brook as “muck,” consisting of dark sedimentation and in some cases, solid debris.
The story began evolving Friday afternoon when area resident Phil Browne posted photos of the incident on the Citizens in Opposition to Beach Restrictive Access (COBRA) group on Facebook.
The posting quickly drew two dozen responses from community members including “wtf!” and “disgusting.”
Concerned citizens and environmental organizations reported the incident to the DEP, leading to JSHN and NewsWorks obtaining comment from the DEP late Friday afternoon that the dumping was illegal.
According to the company website, Agate, a subcontractor to Manson Construction, is responsible for constructing outfalls and repairing stone groins in conjunction with a beachfill project.
“This project will challenge Agate’s expertise in water control as we will be constructing the outfalls in a dynamic beach environment with the Atlantic Ocean pounding on our worksite,” the project description states.
The two Deal contracts total $44 million. In New Jersey, the company also has projects in Long Beach Island, Sea Isle City, Mantoloking, Red Bank, and Perth Amboy.
As of this morning, Agate has not returned a telephone request for comment.