Home > Uncategorized > US Army Corps of Engineers Issued Cease & Desist Order at Bull’s Island for Violations of the Clean Water Act

US Army Corps of Engineers Issued Cease & Desist Order at Bull’s Island for Violations of the Clean Water Act

Documents Show NJ DEP & NJWSA Lied To Investigators About Illegal Fill

NJ DEP Also Issued Stop Work Order for State Violations

Vegetation bulldozed and debris and dregde material disposed along Delaware River in Bull's Island State Park (March 10, 2012)

DELAWARE TWP.  The piles of debris including tires and other materials at Bulls Island State Park are a result of routine maintenance dredging of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said today, Thursday.

This is an environmentally positive effort,“ Larry Ragonese said, rather than the desecration described by environmental activist Bill Wolfe of West Amwell Township in an article published on NJ.com on Wednesday.

“What looked like fill material was being bulldozed along about 400 feet of the floodplain. It was full of solid waste: tires, metal, bottles and cans, chunks of steel and construction debris, wood, and PVC pipe,” [Wolfe] said.

According to Ragonese, the state Water Supply Authority is doing the work, and it “has permits from the DEP and the Army Corps of Engineers.” ..

Ragonese called Wolfe “completely ridiculous and irresponsible” for his comments. Debris is removed from the canal annually, “to keep in flowing and healthy,” Ragonese said. ~~~ Hunterdon County Democrat –  March 14, 2012

Documents just obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recently took enforcement action and issued a Cease and Desist Order to the NJ Water Supply Authority (NJWSA).

The USACE Order cited NJWSA for illegal activity along the Delaware River and un-permitted activity – a direct contradiction of the above statements by Larry Rangonese of the DEP press Office.

In other words, Larry lied.

The Order cited multiple violations of the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for illegal discharge and disposal of dredge materials in and along the Delaware River and unpermited dredging at Bull’s Island State Park and along additional sections of the D& R Canal in Stockton.

The May 23, 2012 USACE Order states:

Inspection by personnel of this office has revealed that unauthorized work, including dredging and the discharge of dredge and/or fill material, has been performed in waters of the United States at Bull’s Island …The unauthorized work was performed within the Delaware River and within and adjacent to the upstream terminus of the Delaware and Raritan by the New Jersey Water Supply Authority.

Work of this nature, when conducted without a Department of the Army permit is a violation of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and of Section 301 of the Clean Water Act.

The Corps inspectors found additional violations and unpermitted work along a stretch of the D&R Canal near Hendrick Island north of Stockton.

The Corps Order chastised the NJWSA for serious repeat violations, including failure to comply with prior agreements with the USACE for previous illegal work along the D&R Canal and Delaware River, including construction of structures, dredging, and discharge of dredge materials in violation of the Clean Water Act.

So, NJWSA is a repeat offender and has shown not only a pattern of violations, but egregious willful and knowing conduct and a total disregard for compliance.

That kind of behavior typically warrants strong enforcement sanctions – including steep fines.

NJ DEP water enforcement rules provide:

(h) The Department shall determine the conduct of the violator as major, moderate or minor as follows:
1. Major shall include any intentional, deliberate, purposeful, knowing or willful act or omission by the violator; 

But it gets even worse.

It isn’t just the DEP press office that lied – and it is accurate to say that the DEP press office lied in this case because they never corrected the public record and acknowledged their error.

USACE documents show that both the NJWSA and DEP lied to Corps investigators about the illegal actions, specifically regarding illegal disposal along the Delaware River.

Let’s repeat that: DEP and NJWSA lied to Corps investigators.

A May 16, 2012 USACE “MEMORANDUM FOR RECORD” (boldface in original) makes that very clear. The USACE memo also cites violations of NJ State law and NJDEP permits.

This memo vindicates virtually everything I’ve written about violations at Bull’s Island, see especially this March 27, 2012 post: DEP Statements on Bull’s Island Are Flat Out False.

The USACE memo, By Kevin Maley of the  Surveillance and Enforcement Section, states (see especially point #7):

1. On March 23, 2012, Mr. Samule Reynolds, Chief, Application Section II Philadelphia District received a telephone call from Mr. Bill Wolfe, PEER, Ringoes NJ ..

2. Mr. Wolfe claimed that dredging was occurring within the D&R Canal with no erosion controls and that sediment and storm debris was being bulldozed into the Delaware River at Bull’s Island..

3. I reviewed the newspaper articles and Mr. Wolfe’s website articles. It appeared from photographs included with these articles that regulated work was being performed within areas subject to federal jurisdiction..

4. Review of in-house records, including a copy of the permit referenced by Mr. Wolfe, revealed that the permit (Nationwide Permit 24)  had expired in 2009.

5. I inspected the site on March 27, 2012. During my inspection, I meet with Ms. Colleen Ruzicka, D&R Canal State Park; Ms. Marley Dooley, Executive Directo of the D&R Canal Commission; Messers …William Bogosian of the NJWSA and Ms. Tanya Hatten of the NJDEP.

6. During the meeting, Ms. Hatten informed me that the NJDEP had directed that the work along the Delaware River, which is not authorized, stop.  She also informed me that the NJWSA had a State permit to perform maintenance dredging of the D&R Canal, but that she had stopped the work due to seasonal restrictions conditions on the State Permit.. …

7. During my inspection, I observed that material had been pushed into the Delaware River approximately five to ten feet channel ward of the existing ordinary high water mark (OHWM). Ms. Ruzika (of DEP) told me that that work was State Park work to repair river bank lost during recent flooding events. I asked her to find any pictures of the site taken prior to the flood erosion. I also asked her and NJWSA personnel directly if the material being placed along the bank of the river had been dredged from the canal. They all assured me that it had not. They said that the material came from the flood bars deposited in the upland areas of the park. Ms. Ruzika did say that the NJWSA had performed the work for the Park using NJWSA equipment. (This Office was later informed by NJWSA personnel, that some of the material placed along the bank of the Delaware River had indeed been dredged from the canal.)

Well there it is.

Not only the DEP Press Office lied, but so did DEP and NJWSA staff.

NJ DEP water enforcement regulations provide major penalties for providing false information (@ NJAC 7:14-8.6):

7:14-8.6 Civil administrative penalty for submitting inaccurate or false information

(a) The Department may assess a civil administrative penalty pursuant to this section against each violator who sub-mits inaccurate information or who makes a false statement, representation, or certification in any application, record, or other document required to be submitted or maintained, or who falsifies, tampers with or renders inaccurate any monitoring device or method required to be maintained under the Water Pollution Control Act or the New Jersey Under- ground Storage of Hazardous Substances Act or any rule, water quality standard, effluent limitation, administrative order or permit issued pursuant thereto.


(c) The Department shall assess a civil administrative penalty for violations described in this section based on the conduct of the violator at the midpoint of the following ranges except as adjusted pursuant to (d) below:

1. For each intentional, deliberate, purposeful knowing or willful act or omission by the violator, the civil administrative penalty shall be in an amount up to $ 50,000 per act or omission; 

I don’t expect $50,000 per day penalties anytime soon.

But I do expect the DEP Press Office to correct the record and apologize to me personally for false attacks.

[Note: especially for shit like this, which a friend just sent me – which makes it all the more satisfying to see the USACE hold DEP accountable:

Ragonese dismissed Wolfe as a disgruntled former employee and called the Sierra Club criticism “ridiculous.”

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  1. Bill Neil
    August 21st, 2012 at 13:01 | #1

    Good work, Bill. I wonder how the NJ press is going to handle this. I can’t recall anything this bizarre since the DeMarco cranberry bog- illegal wetland fills at the end of the 1990’s, discovered by aerial photography of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the determined Cliff Day who headed the NJ field office.

    Can anyone come up with a motive? The stakes are escalating, so what was driving this?

  2. Ed Meakem
    August 22nd, 2012 at 11:25 | #2

    Damn They lied again? Hard to understand. PANTS on FIRE and the Ass Hat Award to the DEP…..Great work Bill

  1. August 26th, 2014 at 19:41 | #1
  2. October 10th, 2014 at 10:48 | #2
  3. July 1st, 2022 at 19:39 | #3
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