Department of Environmental Conservation

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New York/New Jersey Harbor Contaminant Assessment and Reduction Project

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) is attempting to reduce toxic chemicals in New York Harbor. This work is being done under the Contamination Assessment and Reduction Project (CARP). New York and New Jersey's participation stems from the Governors of NY and NJ signing the Joint Plan for Dredging the Port of NY-NJ in the fall of 1997. The plan was recommended by the Hudson Estuary Program (HEP) and implemented through the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP). The Bi-State Dredging Agreement states in part:

"The States commit to implementation of the Harbor Estuary plan as it relates to the study of sediment contaminants, the identification and elimination of the sources of contamination of harbor sediments, the remediation of contaminated areas, and the pursuit and sanction of polluting entities."

The studies reported here are primarily supported by funds from the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey. Contaminant source identification projects are supported by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)and Hudson River Estuary Management Program.

NYSDEC developed a comprehensive, multi-media contaminant identification and trackdown program simultaneously with New Jersey and the CARP Work Group (a group of government, academic, and consultant experts). The states together with the work group are undertaking a variety of projects including studies of the water, sediments, and biota in the Harbor, and tracking down contaminant sources in the surface water, groundwater, and wastewater of the Harbor. The overall goal of the initiative is to reduce the flow of contaminants to the Port of New York and New Jersey. The principal chemicals of concern are as follows:

  • Dioxins/Furans
  • polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • metals (mercury, cadmium, and lead)
  • pesticides (dieldrin and chlordane)

The major objectives of the sampling to be done by NYSDEC are as follows:

  • Develop data to assist in the identification and remediation of continuing sources of toxics contamination to the harbor (i.e., trackdown);
  • Gather data to input into mathematical models designed to predict when sediments and biota will attain certain qualities;
  • Develop information of use in setting total maximum daily loads - TMDLs;
  • Develop data potentially useable in pursuing environmental quality damage litigation; and
  • Provide environmentally sound planning for dredging decisions.

Parallel efforts are being undertaken in New Jersey and by the work group. Samples are taken from the tributaries and the Harbor itself, ambient waters, and near and at contaminant sources. The New Jersey program tracks similar pollutants of concern and follows comparable sampling methodologies.