Home > Uncategorized > Murphy DEP Delaware River Litter Cleanup Day Exposes Hypocrisy, Neglect, And Another Missed Opportunity

Murphy DEP Delaware River Litter Cleanup Day Exposes Hypocrisy, Neglect, And Another Missed Opportunity

Northern Portion of Bulls Island Still Closed, 9 Years After Freak Accident

Trenton’s Duck Island Continues To Be Neglected

Duck Island Should Be Developed As A New Urban State Park

I am shocked that with all the Penn Foundation money dedicated to the Delaware River Watershed (more than $100 million) and all the well endowed NJ conservation groups that receive that money, that there is absolutely no vision for this gorgeous riverfront site (Duck Island), which could become a premier state park and provide tremendous benefits to a distressed city.

[see End Note below]

The Hunterdon County Democrat reports that DEP is sponsoring a litter cleanup day on the Delaware River on September 21 2019, see:

The cleanup is limited to the Lambertville, Stockton and Frenchtown area:

Volunteers will meet for shoreline cleanups in Kingwood, Bull’s Island in Stockton and at the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead in Lambertville. If water levels permit, boat-based cleanups will be held out of Kingwood and Bull’s Island.

The event raises questions and exposes serious problems at DEP.

I reached out to the group coordinating the DEP event (and likely funded for that work by DEP), The Delaware River Greenway Partnership, to ask for their help on building public awareness of these problems and advocating for solutions. They were not interested.

1. Bulls Island Still Closed 9 Years After Freak Accident

the author, Bulls Island (May 2012)

the author, Bulls Island (May 2012)

Why is the northern portion of Bulls Island still closed after 9 years? For those not aware of the history, see:

DEP should designate the northern portion a natural area and finish the restoration work they’ve begun there.

A cleanup day there would be a good opportunity to begin public awareness and organize to put some pressure on DEP to get going.

Seems like no one is doing this work and I can’t understand why not, especially after we won the war on stopping Christie DEP Commissioner Bob Martin’s insane clear cut plan. A lot of good people in Hunterdon County made that happen, so I don’t think it would be hard to re-engage them in restoring the Island they saved.

We won the war and now are losing the peace. The DEP’s neglect there is a scandal.

No vision. But lots of focus on band aid feel good measures and securing DEP and Foundation funding.

2. Trenton’s Duck Island Continues To Be Neglected

I assume that DEP chose the location for the event. Bad choice.

DEP must be aware of the mess on Duck Island. Obviously, from a litter removal effectiveness standpoint, volunteer resources would be better targeted there.  Look at the mess – has it been cleaned up yet?

Duck Island on the Delaware (August 14, 2016)

Duck Island on the Delaware (August 14, 2016)

There are other compelling policy reasons to target resources to such an area of historic gross neglect.

Why is a Democratic administration who claims to be committed to “environmental justice” neglecting an urban park (the City of Trenton owns the land in the photos) and instead allocating money to clean up wealthy backyards of the elite in Hunterdon County?

The DEP Delaware River litter cleanup would be far more effectively targeted on Duck Island.

3. Duck Island Should Be Cleaned Up, Restored, And Developed As An Urban State Park

Duck Island is a gem on the Delaware River in Trenton. It would make a spectacular urban riverfront park, in NJ’s Capital City.

The Island not only has major problems with illegal solid waste disposal and litter.

There are toxic sites on the island that are not completely cleaned up and the public has not been fully compensated for Natural Resource Damages (NRD) caused by major corporate polluters, including oil industry corporations and PSEG.

There also is a mothballed sludge incinerator that was so poorly designed it never operated, and a closed PSEG power plant.

PSEG recently sold their closed power plant property on Duck Island to Hilco Redevelopment Partners, a development company. According to PSEG:

HRP envisions redeveloping the sites as state-of-the-art industrial parks to serve the growing need for regional warehouse distribution hubs in central and northern New Jersey.

The last thing we need is another “warehouse distribution hub”, especially on the shore of the Delaware River on the edge of Trenton.

The state has no vision.

By failing to develop comprehensive remedial and ecological restoration plans for the entire Duck Island the State of NJ missed a golden opportunity to acquire that land from PSEG as the anchor of a new urban State Park.

But it’s not too late.

Hilco Redevelopment has not received DEP approvals for demolition or redevelopment at the site.

The Murphy administration should immediately do the following:

1) put Hilco on notice that the State of NJ plans to make the Island a State park, will not approve redevelopment permits, and desires to negotiate the purchase of the site. If Hilco is not interested, then NJ is willing to condemn the land, with compensation.

2) Put all the polluters on notice, via an NRD lawsuit, that the State seeks to restore damaged natural resources on the island and that they must pay for the damage they did.

3) allocate CBT Open Space funds to DEP Division of Parks to develop remedial, ecological restoration and park plans.

4) Begin acquiring lands on the island with Green Acres Funds.

5) Put together a package for a legislative appropriation and allocate adequate funds in next fiscal year’s budget.

This is all technically doable and financially feasible.

I am shocked that with all the Penn Foundation money dedicated to the Delaware Watershed (more tha $100 million) and all the well endowed NJ conservation groups that receive that money, that there is absolutely no vision for this gorgeous site, which could become a premier state park and provide tremendous benefits to a distressed city.

The fact this lack of vision and outright neglect is occurring under a Democratic administration that claims to be committed to environmental justice is an outrage and totally unacceptable.

Where are the conservation groups? The major Foundations? The Democrats?

The fact that this idea is not even on the radar is another example of corporate PSEG power in NJ.

[End Note: While the weenie conservation groups and corporate Foundations partner with and provide cover for the Murphy DEP, sabotage real activism and undermine the fossil moratorium campaign, and conduct ineffective window dressing actions like a litter cleanup day (its bad enough that the litter cleanup action is window dressing, but, as I show above, it is completely ineffective in meeting its own timid litter cleanup goals), Sierra Club provides an alternative and more effective approach on how to integrate social events with real activism on a a priority issue that targets and holds the Governor and DEP accountable.

Next Saturday (September 15), they are holding a picnic event on the Delaware, that celebrates 5 years of activism in opposing the PennEast pipeline:

Dear Sierra Club member,

We are hosting a picnic/social on Sunday September 15th at Cavallo Park in Lambertville to celebrate the 5th Anniversary fighting PennEast, and we’d love for you to join us!

SUNDAY, September 15: Picnic/ Rally Celebration – All of Us as One Against PennEast

We’ve been fighting to stop the PennEast pipeline for five years.  We’re getting together for a social picnic and rally to celebrate that we stopped the pipeline so far. We will rally to prepare for the next steps in battling this disastrous pipeline. PennEast has now filed for critical DEP permits, so the real battle starts now.

The PennEast pipeline would cut through an incredible amount of environmentally sensitive areas, critical drinking water, and historic properties. It must be stopped!

I am no longer a Sierra Club member – Jeff Tittel sent me this this morning, likely as a move to agree in part with the above post, but go beyond it to focus on a more important issue. I focused on re-opening Bulls Island and making Duck Island a State Park, while ignoring the elephant in the room! Oops! Hoist on my own petard!

That’s No Big Deal, because I’ve written many times recently about Murphy DEP’s climate failures, including failing to revoke Christie DEP rollbacks to wetlands and stream encroachment regulations and failure to adopt rules to implement the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification requirements. These failure will make it virtually impossible to deny the PennEast pipeline permits and WQC ~~~ end]

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