Storm Could Have Long Term Impact On Barnegat Bay [AUDIO]
We see the devastating impact that Super Storm Sandy had on many Garden State residents, but how did it affect the Barnegat Bay?
Dr. Stan Hales, Director of the Toms River-based Barnegat Bay Partnership, says it's still too early to know the full effects of the storm on the massive estuary but he says they know the water quality in the northern part of the bay and surrounding coast isn't good.
"We know right now that water quality in the northern part of the bay is especially poor due to a lot of bacteria and other materials that had been dumped into the upper system."
Dr. Hales says they don't know the exact source of the bacteria but some of it could be from two sewage treatment plants in Passaic and Middlesex Counties that sustained extensive damage during the storm and have been spewing raw materials into the coastal waters.
He says "as you know, a lot of that is distributed along the coast. So we're going to continue to see impacts from those discharges for some time and the water isn't particularly good for people to have any contact with." Hales is asking everyone to stay out of the water. He says "It's just not safe for people to be in it as a result of all of the bacterial and other contamination."
He says they're also concerned about the cleanup and recovery efforts of residents who've been piling up debris along the roadways.
"We'd ask everybody to be extra careful because you know, we've had Spring Tides lately and a lot of the materials are getting piled up in places where it's simply washing back into the bay and being carried elsewhere." He advises residents to place debris in receptacles so it stays put.
Additionally, Hales says people cleaning up from the storm can't always be sure what they're dealing with. He says there's lots of debris that could be hazardous.
He says propane gas cans could be leaking and rusting and could be dangerous. He advises folks to bag up items you're unsure of and to contact emergency responders to deal with materials."
He also advises boaters to use extreme caution.
"You know right now it's not safe to boat or travel in many areas that are affected by the storm. There are houses sitting in the bay. There are lots of submerged obstacles in the bay."
Hales says the State Department of Environmental Protection is doing a good job conducting regular water test along the entire coast.