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Scientific Research Yields Consensus on Opportunities for a Cleaner New York / New Jersey Harbor; NY/NJ Harbor Consortium Issues Final Report

Release Date: 04/03/2008
Contact Information: EPA Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, / New York Academy of Sciences Bill Silberg (212) 298-8646, / Port Authority of NY/NJ Jason Kirin, (212) 435-4234,

(New York, N.Y.) After seven years of groundbreaking research and consensus building, the NY/NJ Harbor Consortium of the New York Academy of Sciences, a coalition of over 70 stakeholder organizations, unveiled its final report describing an innovative and collaborative process that brought stakeholders together to recommend and implement actions leading to a more sustainable NY/NJ Harbor Watershed. The harbor project examined the causes of on-going pollution to the harbor and developed management strategies for five important contaminants: mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

The exhaustive report, “Safe Harbor: Bringing People and Science Together to Improve the New York / New Jersey Harbor,” was presented and discussed at a New York Academy of Sciences gathering of scientists, engineers and other technical experts representing the most extensive level of environmental expertise in the region today. Highlighting the report’s value the conference was attended by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Alan J. Steinberg, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ellis Rubinstein, President of the New York Academy of Sciences, R. M. Larrabee, Director of Port Commerce Department for the Port Authority of NY/NJ and Charles W. Powers, Chair of the NY/NJ Harbor Consortium.

Originating from a 1998 EPA proposal, the NY/NJ Harbor Consortium of the New York Academy of Sciences has been meeting – in plenary and in diverse technical groupings – to explore ways to identify the sources of five contaminants in the watershed and make recommendations to reduce their environmental impacts. Today’s final report presents consensus recommendations based on sound science to clearly outline opportunities for environmental improvement and collective action.

“A healthy harbor is a regional priority with national significance,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA is proud to have supported and partially funded this broad-based coalition of collaborative problem solvers, and even more proud to see final recommendations that will encourage others to seize those opportunities to be good environmental stewards.”

“The harbor is not only an environmental treasure but the lifeblood of some of the most efficient aspects of our regional economy. The harbor deserves concerted efforts from all of us – big institutions, small municipalities and families – to make it even healthier. Remarkably, key people from 70 institutions were able over 7 years to agree on literally hundreds of ways – based on the data - to do just that. The achievement is worthy of not only celebration but of being emulated for other tough but resolvable social policy challenges,” said Charles W. Powers, the Consortium’s chair for the life of the project.

"The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is proud of our decade-long association with the Harbor Consortium and the New York Academy of Sciences Industrial Ecology, Pollution Prevention Study for the New York/New Jersey Harbor. The Harbor Consortium members, though representing diverse and sometimes competing interests, were able to achieve consensus on the industrial sources of contaminants in the harbor and ways to prevent them from entering the watershed. The award winning pollution prevention strategies developed by the Consortium will lead to a cleaner and healthier Harbor and ultimately reduce the cost associated with maintaining safe navigation channels for the thousands of vessels calling at the port," said R. M. Larrabee, Director of Port Commerce Dept. for the Port Authority of NY/NJ.

“We're very pleased to see the completion of the final report of the Academy's Harbor Project, our multi-year study of the pollution threats facing the New York/New Jersey harbor," NYAS President Ellis Rubinstein said. "This project has been instrumental in bringing together representatives of the many communities deeply concerned about these critical environmental issues and committed to working collaboratively to develop scientifically sound pollution prevention strategies. The result has been a rich collection of reference materials readily available to anyone interested in these important problems."

The New York / New Jersey Harbor faces a long list of complex and controversial environmental issues. The NY/NJ Harbor Consortium of the New York Academy of Sciences has achieved extraordinary results by harnessing scientific expertise from a diversity of sources to create a forum for holistic discussion and decision-making.

Results and recommendations from this research have been published and released in stages beginning in 2002 and ending in 2007 with the publication of the final report on PAHs. Through a broad array of governmental actions and local initiatives a significant number of these recommendations have been, or are being, implemented. The actual reports of the NY/NJ Harbor Consortium and their many recommendations are available at 

The NY/NJ Harbor Consortium achievements and published works provide a guide applicable for developing achievable solutions to several kinds of highly complex problems. The five reports have become a major reference and educational source of information for a diverse global audience.

To access the “Safe Harbor” Report of the New York Academy of Sciences Harbor Consortium, please visit