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July 17, 2003

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795

Next Round of 50 Cars Splashed at Deep Water Reef Site

(03/100) TRENTON --- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) dropped a second round of 50 subway cars yesterday at the Deep Water Reef Site for use in the state's artificial reef program. The decommissioned subway cars are part of 250 acquired from the New York Transit Authority (NYTA).

"Our artificial reef program provides tremendous benefits to fishermen, divers, and our shore economy," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "As a pilot project, research at reef sites that include these subway cars will also enhance our understanding of marine ecosystems."

The subway car program coincides with revisions to New Jersey's artificial reef policy, creating robust standards for materials to be used at reef sites and establishing New Jersey as a leader in artificial reef management. Currently there is no uniform national standard for reef material durability.

DEP has formed an independent committee to oversee a multi-year monitoring program at the subway car sites that will study water quality, fisheries and biota, and the durability of the reefs. The committee will convene early this fall for an initial review of the subway car deployment.

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

Past studies of artificial reefs suggest that 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.

DEP deployed the first 50 subway cars at Cape May Reef on July 3. The remaining 150 subway cars will be allocated to Atlantic City Reef, Garden State North Reef, and Shark River Reef. The next deployment will be Wednesday, July 23, at Atlantic City Reef.

The 0.72-square mile Deep Water Reef Site is approximately 25 miles offshore from Ocean City and currently is comprised of over 13,000 cubic yards of vessels, tires and other materials.

Since 2001, NYTA's artificial reef program has deployed over 1,000 decommissioned "Redbird" subway cars at reefs in Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. NYTA bears all costs associated with cleaning the cars and transporting them to the reefs.

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



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