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July 3, 2003

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795

First 50 of 250 Cars Bound for Jersey Reefs Splashed at Cape May Reef Site

(03/95) CAPE MAY --- At the Cape May Reef Site off the Jersey Shore, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today deployed the first 50 subway cars from a group of 250 decommissioned by New York Transit Authority (NYTA) for use in the state's artificial reef program. The state will deploy the remaining 200 cars at four other artificial reefs over the next few months.

"These subway cars are an environmental and economic boon for New Jersey," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "New fishing and diving opportunities will enhance our shore economy, while our marine ecosystems will gain new habitat."

Commissioner Campbell was joined at today's deployment by New York Transit Authority officials, fishing and environmental advocates, and Mayor Malcolm Fraser of Cape May Point, Mayor Suzanne Walters of Stone Harbor, Mayor William Pickolycky of Woodbine, and Mayor Nate Doughty of Middle Township.

The Cape May Reef Site is approximately 8.5 miles offshore from Cape May, with bottom depths of 45 to 70 feet. DEP plans to allocate the remaining 200 subway cars among four artificial reef sites - Atlantic City Reef, Deep Water Reef (off of Ocean City), Garden State North Reef, and Shark River Reef - in accordance with the local conditions at each site.

The New York Transit Authority will bear all costs associated with cleaning the cars and deploying them at the sites.

Since the beginning of 2001, NYTA's artificial reef program has deployed decommissioned "Redbird" subway cars that had been in service since the 1964 World's Fair. To date, the program has deposited 967 of the 1,217 cars available at reefs in Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. New Jersey is acquiring the final 250 cars available in this round of decommissioning, the second largest number of cars for any one state after Delaware's 567 subway cars.

Each Redbird car is approximately 51 feet in length, a little under nine feet in width, and just over nine feet in height. Prior to the cars' deployment, the NYTA strips each car of all tanks, plastic, degradable materials, floatables and greases to avoid possible contamination of the marine ecosystem. NYTA also removes the wheel assemblies and undercarriages of the cars to be sold as scrap metal.

Past studies of artificial reefs suggest the subway cars may be colonized by up to 200 species of fish and invertebrates. Reefs have 800 to 1,000 times more biomass than open ocean. Artificial reefs can also form important nurseries for juvenile fish.

New Jersey previously has used subway cars for reefs, having deployed five Philadelphia SEPTA cars at the Sea Girt reef site in 1990.

The deployment of the subway cars coincides with New Jersey's initiative to revise its artificial reef policy, setting clear goals for what the program should accomplish and establishing a robust standard for the durability of future materials to be used on artificial reefs. Currently there is no uniform national standard for the durability of reef materials.

"New Jersey is establishing itself as a national leader in artificial reef policy, developing comprehensive materials standards and fisheries goals," added Campbell.

As part of this initiative, DEP has formed an independent scientific and technical reef advisory committee, comprised of scientists from federal agencies, other states and academia. The advisory committee will oversee a monitoring program at the subway car sites to study water quality, fisheries and biota, and the durability of the reefs.

Prior to the committee's final report, the state is implementing a moratorium on offshore placement of any additional artificial reef material, with the exception of rock, concrete, and ships and barges.

At today's event, Commissioner Campbell announced that the members of the committee will include: Angela Cristini of Ramapo College, who specializes in aquatic invertebrates and toxics; Frank Steimle of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a research specialist in fisheries biology; Stan Gorski of the NMFS whose specialty is fisheries habitat; Dennis Suszkowski of the Hudson River Foundation whose specialty is toxics; Chris LaPorta, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Reef Coordinator; Jeff Tinsman, the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Service Reef Coordinator; and Michael Bruno of the Stevens Institute, a registered professional engineer and professional certified SCUBA instructor, who specializes in civil ocean engineering.



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