New Jersey asks for dredge material toxin tests

    Environmental officials are waiting for word from the Army Corps of Engineers about the status of a leak from Delaware River dredging material.

    New Jersey’s governor and environmental officials say dredging material from the Delaware River continued to leak into Salem County wetlands — even though they were assured the leak had stopped. WHYY’s health and science reporter Kerry Grens has an update.

    The Army Corps of Engineers has started digging up the bottom of the Delaware River to allow for passage of larger ships. The dredge material was sent appropriately to two sites in Delaware, and inappropriately to another site in New Jersey. Officials found out about the unauthorized dumping after a dike broke and it started to leak into wetlands.

    Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, says at last check, it was still spilling.

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    Hajna: Water was flowing off the site into the wetlands. This was despite the fact that the Army Corps had assured us that the discharge had stopped in late August.

    Hajna says the DEP is asking the Army Corps to test the material for toxins, so they will know whether the leak will damage the wetlands.

    Hajna: The problem is we don’t know what’s contained in these sediments. What contaminants there might be. The sediments were dredged from a section of the river that’s highly industrialized so we’ve been demanding that the Army Corps step up and take samples so we know exactly what the potential impacts could be to the wetlands.

    The Army Corps referred WHYY to the Department of Justice, because of an ongoing lawsuit, but no one responded by deadline.

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