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Phase One Of Passaic River Dredging Project Begins

LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - A dredging project is under way along a half-mile stretch of the Passaic River in Lyndhurst, N.J.

A crane loader resting on a barge is scooping up debris and dumping it in a large bin sitting on the barge. The project will help remove roughly 20,000 cubic yards of polluted sediment from the river.

"After the dredging happens, there'll be installation of a two-foot-thick cap made of stone, fabric, sand and activated carbon," said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator Judith Enck.

Phase One Of Passaic River Dredging Project Begins

The project, said Enck, is part of a larger cleanup of a 17-mile stretch of the lower Passaic, a federal Superfund site.

"And EPA believes very strongly that these actions will make the Passaic River a healthier place to live," said Enck.

"I just wish they were doing more of it," said Hackensack Riverkeeper Capt. Bill Sheehan told WCBS 880's Levon Putney. "This was so bad that they felt they couldn't leave it sit anymore."

Passaic River dredging project
Barge on the Passaic River in Lyndhurst, N.J. for dredging project, August 7, 2013. (credit: WCBS 880)

"People are definitely afraid of this river because of the horrible pollution that's gotten into it," a man told Putney.

Among the toxins lurking in the river are Agent Orange and dioxin, Putney reported.

"PCBs are carcinogenic and are also a neurotoxin," said Enck.

Officials said the goal is to finish this $20 million dredging project by the end of the year.

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