Seeking to maintain protections established by the New Jersey Legislature nearly 200 years ago, the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee advanced legislation (A-1089) yesterday to prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from approving any dumping of dredge spoils on or around islands without the adoption and authorization of a municipal ordinance to do so.
Dredging involves the removal of sediment and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors and other bodies of water. “Dredging spoils,” are unconsolidated, randomly mixed sediments composed of rock, soil, or shell materials extracted by dredging, which are amassed by subsequent dumping activities.
Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Burlington), one of the sponsors of the bill, said: “This bill is a direct effort to protect Burlington Island and preserve it for its intended recreational, conservational, educational and cultural uses. Plans to dump potentially hazardous mud, silt and clay in order to deepen the Delaware River channel only threatens the ecosystem of the island – home to bald eagles and other protected species – stripping it of its benefit to our community.”
Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington) added: “Commercial interests should not be allowed to supersede the interests of Burlington County residents or the residents of any local community in New Jersey. In establishing stricter mechanisms concerning the disposal of dredge spoils, this legislation seeks to maintain the protections secured for Burlington Island as well as to safeguard State owned land from uses that subvert its value.”
The measure now goes to the Speaker for further review.