Rutgers Postpones Seismic Study Until Next Year

Dated: 08/11/2014

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Rutgers University and its partners have decided to postpone a geological survey planned for 15 miles off the coast of Barnegat Light. The R/V Marcus G. Langseth – slated to conduct the seismic testing for the project – has been moored for repairs for weeks, and now, says Clean Ocean Action’s Lauren Townsend, “the study cannot meet the required 30 days completed by the August 17, 2014, deadline.”

“After the completion of the National Science Foundation environmental compliance process, and as allowed by the IHA (Incidental Harassment Authorization), the R/V Langseth left port to begin the planned research on July 1,” said Maria Zacharias, NSF senior public affairs specialist. “Unfortunately, the ship encountered equipment problems, and the length of time requiring repairs has led to postponing the research cruise.  
“The research efforts are expected to be rescheduled during approximately the same time next year.”
 
“It is a victory for marine life this summer, and for the state of New Jersey and thousands of citizens that have rallied to their defense,” remarked COA Executive Director Cindy Zipf. “The coastal economy won’t be a victim of Rutgers’ seismic blasting off our coast … this year. “However, we are stunned that the National Science Foundation, Rutgers and others are going to try again next year given the many members of Congress, the state of New Jersey, New Jersey state legislators, fishing, diving, tourism, ocean advocacy organizations, and nearly 20,000 petition signers have opposed the project,” Zipf added. “(The) air-gun blasts can generate up to 250 decibels underwater,” the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection noted last month, in the midst of trying to halt the project. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “is in the process of updating its Marine Mammal Acoustic Guidance, which set standards on how man-made sounds like seismic testing, sonar tests and ship noise can affect marine mammals. Currently, the threshold level at which underwater noise is considered to pose dangers to marine wildlife is 160 decibels, which is louder than a jet engine.” Research on seismic study impacts on marine life, COA pointed out, “have shown responses that range from harassment to death.”
“Allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean is essentially opening the floodgates to oil and gas development. Before an oil well is even drilled, seismic testing could displace fisheries, deafen whales and dolphins, and interrupt vital marine animal behaviors, such as feeding, migration, communication and breeding,” said COA Staff Scientist Cassandra Ornell. In July, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied the DEP’s request to temporarily stop the seismic survey, but now a postponement has come in the form of problems with the NSF-owned Marcus G. Langseth, which is operated through a cooperative agreement with Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The state, COA and others opposed to the study plan to regroup in their attempt to halt the project altogether. “They blind-sided us last time, but now time is on our side, and we will demand that the permitting process have robust congressional and state oversight and ample time for public review,” said Zipf. “We, the people, will be prepared and organized to advocate on behalf of New Jersey marine life to stop this dangerous experiment.” Rutgers professor Gregory Mountain, the study’s principal investigator, said at this point in time he is advised not to comment on the matter “due to the continuing litigation brought by the NJDEP.”
Courtesy of— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch juliet@thesandpaper.net
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Kim Pileggi

Greetings from Long Beach Island! I am a full time real estate agent specializing in LBI sales and summer rentals, servicing all of LBI and the surrounding mainland communities. I have earned several ....

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