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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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news releases

September 27, 2005

Contact: Fred Mumford
(609) 984-1795


(05/117) TRENTON -- Using $50,000 from a natural resource damage settlement with operators of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell today announced completion of new interpretive exhibits to improve educational opportunities for visitors at Island Beach State Park.

"The expansion and improvement of Island Beach State Park's public education program partially compensates the public for lost use of this important fishery," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "The educational improvements to the park's public areas enhance visitors' understanding of New Jersey's ocean environment."

In September 2002, a surface water discharge at elevated temperatures at AmerGen Energy Company LLC's Oyster Creek Generating Station in Forked River, Ocean County, resulted in the death of at least 5,876 individual fish in Oyster Creek. Several species of fish were affected, including striped bass, white perch, and Atlantic menhaden.

"Coastal exhibits about areas like Oyster Creek help the thousands of children and adults that visit Island Beach State Park each year understand the ecological value of the resource," said Commissioner Campbell. "New Jersey's important recreational fishery offers fun and thousands of job opportunities."

AmerGen's Oyster Creek facility violated its surface water discharge permit that controls its use of water for cooling purposes. DEP received a monetary settlement of $182,812 to compensate the public for diminished use of the fishery as a direct result of the thermal discharge at the Oyster Creek facility.

DEP used the funds to purchase new educational exhibits and media for three primary interpretive areas at Island Beach State Park in Ocean County. These areas include the Breezeway at the North Pavilion, the Forked River 112 Interpretive Center and the Nature Center.

Among the new interpretive exhibits and media installed are 220-gallon and 175-gallon capacity aquariums, an ocean life touch tank, fiberglass fish mounts, and aerial photographs of Sedge Islands, Island Beach, and Barnegat Inlet.

Background on DEP Natural Resource Damage Program

Natural Resource Damage claims compensate the residents of New Jersey for the injury and lost use of natural resources due to contamination. Injuries can refer to both ecological injuries to wetlands, wildlife, ground water or surface water and to human use injuries such as the closure of a waterway to fishing, a beach to swimming or an aquifer for use as drinking water supply.

DEP's preferred voluntary settlement track has resulted in the settlement of natural resource damages at 360 hazardous sites. The total preserved wildlife habitat and aquifer recharge area is more than 4,000 acres.

In addition to land acreage preserved, DEP and the Attorney General's Office have recovered approximately $30 million since 2002. DEP uses this money to restore wetlands and endangered species habitat, increase public access to natural resources, and protect and manage resources injured by oil spills and hazardous waste sites. DEP also is working with 95 additional responsible parties representing about 850 sites that seek to voluntarily resolve their liability for natural resource damages.

DEP prefers NRD settlements to include restoration work and resource protection in lieu of payment of monetary damages. NRD claims are separate from the costs associated with cleaning up contamination.

In the past three years, DEP and the New Jersey Attorney General's Office have filed NRD complaints against 52 companies alleged to have polluted 306 sites statewide. New Jersey's Spill Compensation and Control Act makes any entity that has discharged hazardous substances onto the land or into the waters of the state liable for both cleanup and for natural resource injuries.



NJDEP - Natural Resource Restoration


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Last Updated: September 27, 2005