The federal government is handing out more than $1.5 million from pollution fines assessed against shipping companies that will fund 19 ocean or shoreline projects in New Jersey.
The U.S. Attorney's Office and the Coast Guard announced the funding Monday, saying it came from fines against a trio of shipping companies that pleaded guilty to violating a federal law against intentionally discharging oil, sludge or bilge water into the ocean.
The money will go for removing 170 tons of marine trash, restoring wetlands, removing rotting piers, and conserving bird, fish and shellfish populations.
"The intentional discharge of oil from vessels releases millions of gallons of oil into navigable waters," said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman. "It is particularly gratifying to be a part of a process that takes money from those who knowingly damage the environment and gives it to those who work to heal it."
The fines were assessed against Clipper Marine Services of Denmark; Holy House Shipping AB of Sweden, and Dalnave Navigation Inc. of Liberia.
The money will fund coastal projects around the state, including removing marine debris from waterways in Great Egg Harbor, the Passaic Valley, Absecon, Sandy Hook, Brigantine and Galloway.
It will help pay for spill response projects for hazmat first responders, water recycling systems at marinas, shorebird conservation programs, habitat restoration programs, and an ecological restoration of Cadwalder Park in Trenton.
It also will fund a dam removal project in Pohatcong and Holland townships in Warren and Hunterdon counties; help re-establish oyster colonies in the Shrewsbury River, and study unintentional catches of river herring by commercial fishing vessels.
"These projects will mitigate the environmental impacts of illegal dumping and bring additional benefits to the fish, wildlife, and communities that were affected," said Capt. Robert O'Brien Jr., commander of the Coast Guard's New York sector.