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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11/27/02
02/124

Contact: Patricia Cabrera
609-984-1795

NJDEP AWARDS 6 LOCAL COMMUNITY LIAISON GRANTS TOTALLING $60,000

Language Not a Barrier in Blue Claw Crab Public Outreach Campaign

(02/124) Trenton, NJ --- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded six local community based organizations a total of $60,000 in grants to implement targeted community outreach and education campaigns informing the public of the high health risks linked to the consumption of blue claw crabs from the Newark Bay region.

A year ago DEP performed a site-specific risk assessment that determined that eating blue claw crabs contaminated with dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) poses an increased risk of developing cancer. Women of childbearing age, fetuses and children under the age of 15 are considered most at risk, as are communities that do not speak English and may not be aware of an existing ban on the consumption of blue claw crabs from the Newark Bay.

"DEP is committed to providing all communities with timely information on reducing exposure to potential health risks," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "The community liaison grants are part of a comprehensive outreach campaign to more effectively increase public awareness."

Funding is provided under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between DEP and the Hackensack River Keeper. It finances efforts, including: the "Adoption" of local waterfronts; posting of signs along the banks of the Newark Bay region in English, Spanish and Portuguese; mailing and distributing bilingual newsletters (Spanish/English), teacher's guides and brochures; partnering with community health clinics; and organizing community education conferences where representatives from DEP will present information on the crab advisory.

"We will not allow language to be a barrier in getting out this urgent message," added Commissioner Campbell. "The Department will work directly with the selected organizations who demonstrated the commitment and ability to deliver a multi-lingual awareness message directly into local high-risk communities."

The 6 awarded community based organizations are:

  • Center for Environmental Communication, Cook College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
  • Elizabethport Presbyterian Center, Inc., Elizabeth, NJ
  • Future City, Elizabeth, NJ
  • Immigration and American Citizenship Organization, Passaic, NJ
  • Ironbound Community Corporation, Newark, NJ
  • Jewish Renaissance Medical Center, Perth Amboy, NJ

In the 1980's, research showed elevated levels of dioxin and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in five species of fish and the blue claw crab in the Newark Bay region. One of the sources for dioxin contamination of the sediment of the region is the Diamond Alkali Company, later known as Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company. The site, where agent orange, a defoliant was manufactured between 1951 and 1969, and the adjoining six-mile stretch of the Passaic River, is a federal Superfund site.

Dioxin accumulates in the food chain and can be found in trace amounts in meat and dairy products as well as fish. In fish, dioxin levels can accumulate to 100,000 times that of the surrounding environment.

The Newark Bay region is a highly industrialized urban area, which includes Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Union and Passaic counties and 32 municipalities. Fishing takes place along its 180 miles of shoreline. It is comprised of the Newark Bay, the Hackensack River up to the Oradell Dam, Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, sections of all rivers and streams that run into these water bodies and the Passaic River downstream of Dundee Dam and streams that feed into this section of the river.

 

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