Home > Uncategorized > DEP Claims on Oysters Are A Fraud

DEP Claims on Oysters Are A Fraud

Debbie Mans, NY/NJ Baykeeper, speaks at Keyport press conference. Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen) on right. Keyport local official on left (sorry, didn;t get her name!)

Debbie Mans, NY/NJ Baykeeper, speaks at Keyport press conference. (L-R: Dennis Suszkowski, Hudson River Foundation;Keyport local official (sorry, didn’t get her name!); Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen); Baykeeper project coordinator.

Does the Christie Administration want to be known for the Third World practice of failing to protect food supplies from bacterial diseases caused by human feces?

[Updates below]

The headline of this post summarizes my view, and I’ve said about all I can (see prior posts, this and this and this).

crabbing - poaching? No health risks here!

crabbing – poaching? No health risks here!

This quote pretty much sum it all up (watch the video here, quote is at time 2:02):

There are 600 million clams in this bay – any one of which a person can eat and do eat – raw – and get just as sick as from eating those [Baykeeper research] oysters.   So how is removing five one thousandths of one percent of the shellfish from Raritan Bay going to keep anyone safe?”  Christopher Len, Staff attorney, NY/NJ Baykeeper

And let’s recall and keep the focus on the deficiencies FDA found in NJ’s shellfish sanitation program – which are contrary to DEP Commissioner Martin’s sham, diversionary, and self serving  focus on Baykeeeper oyster restoration research.

FDA concerns are the real threats to public health and the $790 million shellfish industry. Raw sewage discharged from “combined sewer overflows” is the problem. Lack of investment to upgrade decrepit wastewater treatment infrastructure is the problem. Lack of pollution controls at sewage treatment plants and industry is the problem. Rampant uncontrolled over-development is the problem. Fertilizers, pesticides, septic systems, and pharmaceuticals flushed down the toilet are the problem. Not Baykeeper’s oyster research.

If those FDA deficiencies are not corrected – and DEP has not even submitted the required Action Plan that was due to FDA on August 2 – the FDA may SHUT DOWN NJ’s shellfish industry and people might get sick from eating contaminated shellfish.

So, if NJ DEP has become nothing more than a security guard for the shellfish industry’s products, at least the profitable industry that benefits from those  services could find the money to pay for them (or face shutdown). In the past, it hasn’t had to go this far – the legislature restored funding to the DEP and DHSS programs to enable them to meet minimum FDA food safety requirements.

Here is what FDA found:

In a June 2, 2010 warning letter accompanying a scathing report, the FDA took the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to task for:

  • Insufficient DEP staffing to meet patrol frequency requirements, particularly for prohibited, restricted, and closed areas that represent the greatest public health risks;
  • Failure by DEP to purchase a larger and seaworthy vessel required to patrol shellfish growing waters, including Delaware Bay;
  • DHSS noncompliance with inspection requirements for certified shellfish dealers.
  • A serious (30%) shortfall in DEP marine water sampling due to loss of employees, a problem compounded by DEP layoff and furlough policies;
  • The need for microbial pollution source tracking in waters fouled by non-point source pollution, including the upper Navesink River, Sandy Hook Bay, and Shrewsbury River;
  • Absence of state regulations that prohibit overboard discharge of human bodily wastesand prevent the public health risks that result from such discharges.

So let’s repeat the question:

Does the Christie Administration want to be known for the Third World practice of failing to protect food supplies from bacterial diseases caused by human feces?

ps – there was some important new information disclosed yesterday, although you can’t read it in the Star Ledger coverage.

Kirk Moore of the  Asbury Park Press reported it:

According to DEP officials the only suitable relocation site in New Jersey is the Maurice River Cove on Delaware Bay at the opposite end of the state, in Cumberland County.

It’s very strange because it seems you could be transferring disease,” said Greg Remaud, Baykeeper’s director for conservation.

Transplanting shellfish from “prohibited/restricted” polluted Raritan Bay to “approved” clean Delaware Bay risks transmission of invasive organisms and would jeopardize the regulatory status (“approved”) of Delaware Bay shellfish growing waters. These kinds of risks would surely prompt strong industry opposition.

DEP’s so called recommended alternative makes no sense scientifically – and I doubt that the “alternative” was recommended by scientists at DEP.

Invasive organisms are a serious problem. It is more of Martin grasping at straws to cover his ass, digging the hole even deeper.

Raritan Bay, Keyport. Too polluted for fish, shellfish, people and other living things

Raritan Bay, Keyport. Too polluted for fish, shellfish, people and other living thing 

[Update #1: 8/11/10 – NJN news, Ed Rodgers covers the story. Watch video]

NY/NJ Baykeeper held a press conference yesterday to protest DEP’s termination of their oyster restoration research project in Raritan Bay, as well as to build public support for passsage of legislation to over-ride DEP’s decision (see S2122 (Cardinale (R-Bergen)/Sarlo (D-Bergen,Essex, Passaic).

[Update #1 a) : in juvenile fashion, just moments after the Baykeeper news conference, DEP fired back with a misleading press release – but at least now they have been forced to address the FDA deficiencies, which they suppressed back in June, and only were forced to respond to after we put out the FDA evaluation Report.]

[Update #2: 10/5/10 – more evidence that the Emperor is a fraud that has no clothes. Excerpt of Jim ONeill’s story in today’s Bergen Record:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
New Jersey officials ordered the removal of experimental oyster reefs from the Raritan Bay, but New York has given permission for similar reefs in New York Harbor.

The NY/NJ Baykeeper, partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, today will announce plans to develop small reefs of oysters near Governors Island to see whether they can survive in polluted harbor waters so the state can eventually restore oysters to the harbor in larger numbers.

“We have expertise in creating experimental oyster beds from our work in New Jersey and we’re trying to transfer that to New York,” Debbie Mans, executive director of the NY/NJ Baykeeper, said Tuesday. “We’ve decided to focus our resources on New York since they’ve been more cooperative.”

She said the federal agencies have already donated the use of boats, expertise and technical resources for the project.  ~~~ end update]

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