Construction company fined for illegal beach dumping in Deal

    New Jersey has fined a Cape May County construction company for illegally dumping material on a Monmouth County beach during the excavation of a brook in February. 

    The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued an “Administrative Order and Notice of Civil Administrative Penalty Assessment” to Agate Construction Co., Inc. of Ocean View, requiring the company to pay a $14,000 penalty for dumping material other than sand on the beach and remove any remaining material, NJDEP Press Director Bob Considine tells NewsWorks. 

    “The focus of our enforcement effort was, first and foremost, to eliminate the dumping of material in the intertidal and wave wash zone of the beach. We also wanted to have the material that was dumped on the lower beach removed and properly stored until reuse or proper disposal,” Considine said in an email this afternoon.

    “The action and the order taken by the department accomplish these goals.”

    In a story that NewsWorks and Jersey Shore Hurricane News (JSHN) broke on Feb. 19 after receiving a tip from the “COBRA: Citizens in Opposition to Beach Restrictive Access” Facebook group, 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, NJDEP spokesman Larry Hajna said hours after the state agency received numerous complaints. 

    Considine said this afternoon that much of the material was removed on Feb. 19 and 20 when the state learned of the violation, “but some chunks of debris remained in the wash zone that will have to be handpicked from the beach.”

    The remaining material includes primarily concrete, asphalt, and debris, he said. 

    The state order also requires Agate to properly maintain its storage areas to prevent stockpiled material from “incidental transport” through “runoff, erosion, or tracking on equipment tires,” Considine added.

    The construction company was cited by the state a few days after the incident for violating the Waterfront Development Act and the Coastal Area Facility Review Act. The citations citations did not carry specific penalties but are to ensure that the company removes the material from the beach.

    Last month, Clean Ocean Action, a Sandy Hook-based organization that fights for water quality, requested that the NJDEP cite Agate for violating the Clean Water Act.

    “They were caught with mud on their hands by local defenders of the ocean and must be held accountable. Let this serve as a clear message to others, if you pollute you will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of ALL laws,” said Clean Ocean Action Executive Director Cindy Zipf in a release.

    Andrew Chambarry, a Monmouth County attorney and founder of the COBRA group, says today’s action against Agate is “great news.”

    “Hopefully this serves as a warning to those who would degrade and destroy our beaches,” he said. 

    Agate has not responded to multiple requests for comment since February. 

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