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July 25, 2003

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 984-1795

Next Round of 50 Cars Splashed at Atlantic City Reef Site

(03/102) TRENTON --- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) dropped a third round of 50 subway cars today at the Atlantic City 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).

"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."

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 and the second 50 cars at Deep Water Reef off Ocean City on July 16. The remaining 100 subway cars will be allocated to Garden State North and Shark River Reefs.

The 4.0-square mile Atlantic City Reef Site is approximately 12 miles offshore from Atlantic City and currently is comprised of over 53,000 cubic yards of vessels, tanks, 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.

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.



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