Monday, May 11, 2009

Holt finally perks up about Branchport Creek - Pallone still MIA

Its ONLY going to be a 4th year, so why shouldn't Rush Holt, the NJ Congressman representing Oceanport NJ, finally speak up about Monmouth Park's role in the pollution of Branchport Creek. Below is a letter Holt has sent to useless Lisa Jackson at the EPA.

Don't forget, TONIGHT - MAY 11 - 7pm Oceanport Borough Hall

I'll say this much, I'm thankful that the Congressman has finally made some effort, however, that the congressman only gets involved once every 4 years in quite sad and disgraceful in my opinion.  Then again, so far I have seen evidence of even a letter from Frank Pallone's office (Branchport Creek separates Oceanport - Holt's district - and Long Branch - Pallone's district and hometown) so I'll be curious to see if he makes an appearance tonight and/or has a staffer say something on his behalf.

The letter from Rush Holt to Lisa Jackson follows, mind the OCR translation and copy/paste for any errors.
The Honorable Lisa P. Jackson
US Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20460-0001

Dear Administrator Jackson:

As you know, I wrote to you in 2007 when you served as the Commissioner of the New Jersey department of Environmental Protection regarding the concerns of many of my constituents about the fecal bacterial contamination of Branchport Creek in Oceanport NJ caused by the Monmouth Park Racetrack. In response to my letter, your office levied several thousand dollars of fines against Monmouth Park for its violations, and at the time it appeared the racetrack would
end its practice of dumping waste into the creek.

I am deeply concerned that the Monmouth Racetrack continues to dump waste in the Branchport Creek. This practice has caused the bacterial levels to reach a dangerous level which is a health risk to the public and to the environment. Since 2006, health officials have posted signs along the creek warning people to avoid coming into contact with the water because of high levels of fecal bacteria. The declining fish population has demonstrated the environmental effect of this contamination. while th New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has already attributed this pollution to the dumping of contamination waste into the creek by grounds keepers of Monmouth Park racetrack, the NJ DEP has failed to act to stop this practice.

Unfortunately, we face a situation in which the state is fining a state agency, as Monmouth Park is overseen by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. New Jersey has not taken the appropriate steps to stop the activities which have made Branchport Creek unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities.  Given this inaction, I believe that the federal government needs to step in. I respectfully request that the Environmental Protection Agency use the authority under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) (Title 33
Section 1342) of the Clean Water Act to investigate and take regulatory actions to stop the continuing pollution of Branchport Creek.

The cleanliness and restoration of Branchport Creek is an issue of importance to me and to my constituents. I look forward to working with you to make the creek safe for future generations.


Rush Holt
Member of Congress


Joseph said...

I was at the meeting but I could not speak because of my professional affiliation. No one asked one important question: "Does Monmouth Park plan to compensate homeowners for the decrease in their property values due to Monmouth Park's pollution of Branchport Creek?" or a question fot the Oceanport Mayor: "Do you plan to lower the property taxes of homeowners who live adjacent to Branchport Creek due to the polluted water, and if so, will you attempt to recover that lost revenue from Monmouth Park?

James Hogan said...

It wasn't brought up last night, however, I can say that compensation to homeowners for decreased property values/tax issues was brought up to the Mayor at the last meeting, I believe off the record prior to the start of the meeting, by a waterfront resident/neighbor of the Mayor and the answer was "we're working on it".

I think there were a number of great questions asked, most of the answers from MP representatives were vague at best in my opinion and at this point in time I have very little faith in their "plan" ever coming together. I'll have another post about my take on the meeting later today/tonight.

brewersgold said...

It is also interesting to note that New Jersey charges a fee anually to homeowners who have a dock along the poluted creeks edge. The creek has been polluted for a very long time and has seriously damaged the soft shell clam population (if it actually still exists) yet the state will not allow docks to be extended because of the shellfish zone.
The answer to the problem is to build a sewege treatment plant at the track, dredge the creek including the so called clambeds and reseed the area with clams when the process is completed.
That work and expense should be shouldered by the state and not a new operator that leases from the state.
Many of us love the state of New Jersey and are saddned to see it polluted by one of it's own public agencies. All this I am sorry to say.