Submarine Subways

Off the coast of New Jersey, thirty MTA subway cars are being sunk off the coast of Cape May, at Shark Reef, to help create the nation’s most extensive artificial reef system.

According to the Bureau of Marine Fisheries, the USEPA, and the US Army Corps of Engineers, the deployment of artificial reefs provides good habitat for marine life and has room for a lot more. Captain Steve Nagiewicz' underwater shots are available through, with extensive information on locations and dive sites including DGPS locates.

Industrial photographer, Stephen Mallon has documented Metro Transit Authority’s (MTA) train-dumping trips up and down the Eastern Seaboard over the course of two and a half years in his show Next Stop Atlantic displaying the cost efficiencies of ocean dumping versus the high cost of landfilling and labor intensive process of disassembly.

For a comprehensive discussion of the pros and cons of the process, see Robert Hanley’s early coverage in 2003 on the deployments in his NY Times article, "Subway Cars’ Last Stop: Under Sea, Not Ground". Hanley reports that, for New Jersey’s environmental commissioner Bradley M. Campbell:

"This is the biggest enhancement of our artificial reef system in one stroke," he said. "This is a win for New Jersey’s fishermen, a win for the shore economy and a win for the marine environment because we’re enhancing fish habitat."

Eventually more than 600 cars will make their way in the ocean along the Atlantic shores of New Jersey demonstrating how persistent dumping continues to be in the Garden State, with the largest number of brownfields in the US. As a measure of the flexibility of the sea’s subsurface, the creation of synthetic reefs in an otherwise inauspicious shoreline zone seems to demonstrate the ultimate form of recycling and future waste ecologies.

(Photos: Rich Galiano, Stephen Mallon)

posted : Thursday, January 19th, 2012

tags : reef waste subway new_jersey ocean

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