The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is investigating what a spokesman says is the illegal dumping of excavated material today on a beach in Deal, NJ.
DEP spokesman Larry Hajna tells NewsWorks that the material was excavated from a federal outfall construction project in the Monmouth County community. 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 says a subcontractor placed the material on the beach. As of late this afternoon, he could not confirm the subcontractor’s identity. The spokesman did not identify the substance dumped, but witnesses say it was a combination of dirt and assorted debris.
“The activity was not authorized,” he said. “The Army Corps of Engineers New York District is aware of the issue and ordered the subcontractor to clean up the material and dispose of it properly.”
The DEP will conduct a follow-up investigation next week, which will include taking samples, the spokesman said, adding that the activity was not a component of the ongoing federal beach replenishment project in the municipality.
The incident generated a flurry of social media activity earlier this afternoon.
Shortly after noon, area resident Phil Browne posted photos of the incident on the Citizens in Opposition to Beach Restrictive Access (COBRA) group on Facebook.
“This is happening as we speak at Roosevelt Ave in Deal. They’re opening up the creek (Poplar Brook) and dumping the contaminated dirt and debris straight into the ocean,” he wrote. “God only knows what is in there. I’ve already filed a report with the NJDEP.”
The posting drew two dozen responses from community members as of late this afternoon, including “wtf!” and “disgusting.”