In 1984, with eight ocean dumpsites, the Bight was the “Ocean Dumping Capital of the World.” The eight dumpsites included those for contaminated dredged spoils, sewage sludge, acid waste, wood incineration, construction rubble, incinerated toxic wastes, and industrial wastes.
The Bight continues to show the consequences of this legacy of pollution: fish advisories from contaminated sediments; beach closures from runoff, storm drains, and raw sewage discharge; and littered beaches.
Though those “dump-and-dash” days may be behind us, there are still those who, looking to exploit the sea and threaten its ecosystem, view this living resource as a cheap disposal ground.
The Bight is also at the receiving end of the most densely populated urbanized area in the country, belching a steady toxic tide of poisons into the water. The fertile waters of the Bight are suffocating under the rainy day deluge of sediment, pesticides, petroleum products, and sewage.
All told, pollution and industrialization in the Bight leads to:
- Plastic pollution
- Marine debris
- Trash wash-ups
- Offshore oil and gas drilling
- Liquefied Natural Gas ports and vessels
- Dumping of toxic sediments
- Billions of gallons of sewage flowing direct into the ocean
- New wastewater pipelines that discharge into the ocean
- Medical waste washing up onto beaches
- As-yet-uncapped historic ocean dumping sites
- Up-stream contamination slowly seeping into the ocean
- Over-developed coastlines that funnel pollutants into the water.
Cleaning up this mess, and protecting the future from new mistakes, requires a Bight-wide solution to ocean pollution