Costs of Dredge Material Disposal

Prior to 1992, it was common practice to dump dredge material in the ocean

Prior to 1992, it was common to dispose of dredge material in its untreated form in the open ocean. Today, such disposal is prohibited because of clean-water legislation and other environmental concerns.

The various contaminants contained in such dredge material may have severe environmental impacts of chemical, physical, or biological nature, including change of nutrient balance,  inhibition of growth, inhibition of respiration, and overtaxed adjustment, which widely affect the bottom fauna.

The cost of dredge material disposal was about $3 / CY before 1992. Due to changes in regulations and restrictions of common options the disposal costs

increased steadily, reaching a maximum of $118 / CY in 1996, when the dredge material was temporarily shipped to Utah and Ohio, because the option of ocean dumping was eliminated abruptly and no immediate alternatives were available at that time.

In 1996/97, the cost of dredge material disposal fell to $56 / CY. With the introduction of the so-called Newark Bay Confined Disposal Facility, the cost decreased to $34 / CY in 1997. Additional pits are planned or under construction.

Many existing landfills cannot be used because of expected leaching of contaminants. The PANY/NJ considers disposal costs of $25 / CY as a target which would be economically sustainable for Port operation. Periodic Dredge Material Managing Plans (DMMP) are established by the USACE for future requirements. In 1996, representatives of New York and New Jersey, in cooperation with USEPA, USACE, and PANY/NJ developed a Joint Dredging Plan for the Port of New York & New Jersey.