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Urban Coast Institute to Assist in Researching Sediment Contamination in New York Harbor Channels

WEST LONG BRANCH – The Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) has received a $4 million grant from the New Jersey Department of Transportation to work with the Hudson River Foundation and other partners to study sediment contamination levels in New York/New Jersey Harbor.

The research will focus on navigation channels that are periodically dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure they’re deep enough for container ships, tankers and other large vessels traveling to and from the Port of New York and New Jersey. Ultimately, the three-year project will help determine whether dredged materials in these areas are clean enough to deposit at sea, or when they will be in light of remediation efforts. Arrangements must be made to move sediments that do not meet ocean disposal standards to suitable sites on land.

The project builds upon the work of a 2002 Contamination Assessment and Reduction Project (CARP) that modeled the rates in which remediation efforts and natural processes would improve the quality of sediments in these areas. This latest project, known as CARP II, would revisit the accuracy of the models based on new and recent sampling and consider how unforeseen factors such as Hurricanes Sandy and Irene may have impacted contamination levels. CARP II will produce new 15- and 25-year projections based on the findings.

“This project will provide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other harbor stakeholders the scientific information they need to plan future dredge projects in a manner that fully considers the health of marine environments,” said UCI Director Tony MacDonald, the project’s administrator. “With the Panama Canal expansion complete and the Bayonne Bridge being raised, New York and New Jersey can expect to see far larger vessels at their marine terminals. The maintenance of our navigation channels will be more important than ever to safely accommodate these megaships and ensure our ports remain economically competitive.”

The UCI and the Hudson River Foundation will serve as co-principal investigators on the project. The team will also include researchers from Manhattan College, Rutgers University, the University of Rhode Island and two private consultants, Simon Litten and HDR, Inc.

“This new research project provides a unique opportunity to develop scientifically valid management tools, including the possibility of a new screening technique to drastically reduce the costs of determining the level of contamination in sediments slated to be dredged,” said Hudson River Foundation Science Director Dennis Suszkowski.

UCI Marine Scientist Jim Nickels will lead the field sampling activities. Monmouth University student researchers will participate in these efforts under Nickels’ guidance.

“Through CARP II, students will have excellent opportunities to conduct scientific research outside of the classroom,” Nickels said. “Their work will help gauge the health of some of the busiest marine corridors in the country.”

Sampling is expected to take place at points in the Arthur Kill, East River, Flushing Bay, Hackensack River, Hudson River, Lower and Upper New York Bay, Newark Bay, Passaic River, Raritan Bay, Raritan River, Red Hook Channel and Sandy Hook Bay.

About the Urban Coast Institute

The Urban Coast Institute (UCI) was established in 2005 as one of Monmouth University’s Centers of Distinction. The UCI’s mission is to serve Monmouth University and the public interest as a forum for research, education and collaboration in the development and implementation of science-based policies and programs that support stewardship of healthy, productive and resilient coastal ecosystems and communities. Visit for more information.