WOODBURNING AT SEA NEAR END: EPA WITHDRAWS PERMIT
AS CORPS OF ENGINEERS TERMINATES A CONTRACT
NEW YORK, Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn its approval of a permit for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to burn wood at a designated site in the Atlantic Ocean, now that the Corps is in the process of terminating the contract for the last remaining project that included burning wood at sea.
This will effectively end the practice of ocean woodburning, unless the Corps or other party makes an application and receives a permit from EPA before Dec. 31, 1993, the date by which the Water Resources Development Act of 1990 requires woodburning at sea to end. With the permit denied, EPA is also dismissing a pending adjudicatory hearing on the permit, which had been requested by outside interested parties.
"We are pleased both with the fact that woodburning at sea appear to be ending, and with the effort the Corps has exerted to identify land- based alternatives, including recycling. We are closer to achieving the national commitment to protect the environmental quality of the ocean," said Constantine Sidamon-Eristoff, EPA regional administrator.
On Nov. 1, 1985, the Corps applied to EPA for a permit under the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act to burn at sea waste wood collected from the New York Harbor area. The site approved by EPA for woodburning is approximately 17 nautical miles east of Point Pleasant, N.J. in the Atlantic Ocean.
EPA issued the permit which became effective in February 1987 for one year. The Corps reapplied in August of 1987 and EPA extended the permit pending the outcome of a public hearing. In December 1989, after conclusion of the public hearing process, EPA issued a one-year permit to become effective on Jan. 31, 1990. In mid-January, however, N.J. Congressman Frank Pallone and John Peterson, Mayor of Seaside Park, N.J., requested an adjudicatory hearing to review EPA's determination. Subsequently, the Borough of Lavallete, N.J., Oceanic Society, Friends of the Earth, and the Corps joined the hearing as parties. EPA is now dismissing the hearing as moot.
On Sept. 4, 1991, EPA changed the permit to reflect the new requirements contained in the Water Resources Development Act of 1991. The change reduced the woodburning to one project, Weehawken/Edgewater Reach II. The woodburning ocean site has been used since the mid-1960s for burning waste wood, including timber, driftwood, pilings and materials from deteriorated waterfront structures and derelict vessels. An average of 24,000 tons annually was burned at the site during 1988-90. The Corps has burned only 2,850 tons of wooden debris in 1991 and has already disposed of over 13,000 tons through land-based methods, primarily landfilling, this year.
Land-based methods can include reuse and recycling, woodchipping and gasification, or landfilling. The possibility for reuse and recycling is limited, however, because of the salt water and the preservatives in much of the driftwood.
/CONTACT: Herman Phillips of U.S. EPA, 212-264-2515/ CO: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ST: New York, New Jersey IN: SU: SM-FC -- NY089 -- 2137 12/12/91 17:00 EST