Sussex County Delaware

Subway Cars to
be Used as Reefs
Environment ...

PVC Pipe Will Identify
Shallow Parts of Channel

The State of Delaware has decided to use 400 obsolete subway cars from New York City to build a reef system off the Atlantic coast.

Nicholas A. DiPasquale, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said on Friday, June 1, 2001, that Delaware will deploy the controversial project as marine habitat over the next year.

The cars will be submerged about 16 miles east of Indian River Inlet at reef site No. 11.

New York City has been trying to find a way to dispose of the cars for months. Maryland, New Jersey and State of New York officials all rejected the cars due to concerns over asbestos in the walls and floors of the cars.

DNREC officials discounted those concerns after public hearings, studies and consultation with the U.S. Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA said the asbestos concentrations would not be high enough to pose a danger to humans or marine life.

"After careful consideration and public input, the Department has decided to move forward on an agreement with New York City Transit to use subway cars for the creation of artificial marine reefs," said DiPasquale.

"We are persuaded that this is excellent and safe reef material that will enhance habitat for marine life off Delaware shores. Building and restoring wildlife habitat is an important part of our biodiversity efforts."

Reef site No. 11 is 1.3 square nautical miles and has a depth of 80 to 90 feet. It was chosen as the best Delaware reef site for the subway cars because it has sufficient depth for deploying the subway cars and leaving the required 50-foot clearance.

The subway cars have the approval of National Marine Fisheries Service and the Army Corps of Engineers for use as artificial reef material. The cars will be cleaned according to protocols established by the U. S. Coast Guard and approved by the EPA.

Andrew T. Manus, Director of DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife, believes the process that resulted in this agreement and feels certain that it will become a national model.

"We conducted a thorough technical and public review to ensure that a sound and acceptable recommendation in the best public interest was presented to the Secretary," said Manus. "Our review process included our asbestos specialist and other technicians in a complete inspection of the NYC Transit cleaning operation."

According to Jeff Tinsman, Reef Project Manager with DNREC's Division of Fish and Wildlife, "this is an exciting acquisition because it is such a large volume of stable, durable and non toxic material. Reefs have so many benefits including physical protection for reef fish and an enhanced invertebrate community. This helps to maintain and increase biodiversity, and it also enhances recreational fishing and diving opportunities for Delawareans and tourists."

The first deployment of 30 to 40 cars may occur as early as mid June. New York City Transit is donating tug and barge transport service as well as the cars themselves to the reef program.

This donation will triple its worth to Delaware because the value of the material and transport will be used as a local match for federal funding through the Wallop-Breaux Sport Fish Restoration Fund.

The program has a 3 for 1 federal to local match provision. The additional federal funds will allow Delaware to purchase more material for the development of its other ten reef sites.

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