Contamination Warnings in Newark Bay, Lower Passaic, Hackensack Rivers

"Federal officials Wednesday warned people not to come in contact with the water or eat any fish or shellfish from Newark Bay and the lower Passaic and Hackensack rivers because contamination levels remain dangerously high after Hurricane Sandy crippled a key sewage treatment plant."

"The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s main treatment facility in Newark, which serves 1.4 million customers in Bergen, Passaic and three other counties, has been dumping roughly 240 million gallons of raw or partially treated sewage per day into Newark Bay and Upper New York Bay since Sandy struck.

“It’s still very bad. It’s not advisable to come in contact with the water or consume any crabs, shellfish or fish,” said Debbie Mans of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “And without a clear timeline when full secondary treatment will be restored, we’re going to see numbers like this for a while.”

From the time the facility was knocked out during the storm until Nov. 7, it discharged up to 500 million gallons a day of raw sewage, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Partial treatment was restored Nov. 7, but secondary treatment is required to bring coliform counts down to acceptable levels. The facility is still only able to conduct primary treatment of sewage, and has yet to restore its ability to treat sludge, said Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection."

James M. O'Neill reports for the Bergen Record November 14, 2012.

Source: Bergen Record, 11/15/2012