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GAO Report Raises More Questions about Delaware Deepening

Date : Fri, 2 Apr 2010 16:25:43 -0400

For Immediate Release
April 2, 2010 Contact: Jeff Tittel, Director, Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter, 609-558-9100

GAO Report Raises More Questions about Delaware Deepening

The Government Accountability Office has released its assessment of the Army Corps' proposal to deepen the Delaware and the report raises more questions about the validity of the project.

In the report, the GAO says the economic evaluations done by the Army Corps are insufficient because they do not take into account the change in economic conditions, including the closing of refineries, the lessening of steel imports, and other market conditions within the region that make the deepening less viable.

The report says there needs to be better guidance for public notice and environmental documents. The report goes on to say there is still a lot of opposition to the deepening and that it may or may not go forward because of legal challenges by the states. The report cites concerns from the state of New Jersey and the environmental community, including the Sierra Club, that there needs to be more environmental processes and approval.

"While the Army Corps is pushing ahead with the deepening no matter what anyone thinks or says, this GAO report raises more questions that have to be answered before the project goes forward," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. "The report basically says the Army Corps is going ahead without listening to the facts or the concerns from the states that will be affected by the deepening."

"Government agencies are not usually critical of each other. When you read between the lines, the GAO is saying the Army Corps hasn't done its job when it comes to an economic analysis, proper notice, or protecting the states and the environment," Tittel said.

Deepening the Delaware will threaten New Jersey's environment and drinking water and will result in toxic spoils along the riverbanks.

The project requires blasting of bedrock at the bottom of the Delaware River, which could cause fissures in the bedrock and allow salt water intrusion into the underground aquifer and the drinking water. Farms in southern New Jersey depend on the underground aquifer for irrigation and salt water intrusion would cause significant crop damage, negatively impacting the state's farming industry.

Furthermore, eight of the nine dump sites required for the disposal of the dredged materials from the deepening project are to be sited in New Jersey, posing an increased risk to our ground water and the potential for reintroducing toxins from the dredged materials into the river.

There is no concrete evidence of significant economic benefits to New Jersey from the proposed deepening project. However, significant evidence has been provided that there would be numerous risks to the state's farming, fishing, blue crab and oyster industries. There is also evidence of health risks that will result from the dredged material disposal sites.

"The Army Corps has still not justified the $400 million in public expenditures that will go toward a project that will not work," Tittel said.

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2010-04-02 13:25:43

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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