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Subway car artificial reef program discontinued

July 24, 2009 | 11:21 am

Subway cars on a barge prior to deployment.

A New Jersey program using subway cars to build artificial reefs has now been discontinued when it was discovered that the cars weren't holding up as expected.

According to an article in the Press of Atlantic City, the operation was originally suspended in February because the stainless steel cars were disintegrating after only seven months in the ocean.

Darlene Yuhas, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, told the Press that a survey of the 48 cars submerged at the Atlantic City Reef revealed that only two of them remained intact and upright.

"All the evidence suggested they would be long-lasting. In fact, the EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] data was these cars should last 25 years," Yuhas said.

State officials want to find out why the cars are deteriorating at a faster rate than anticipated. Yuhas stressed that they pose no threat and still provide "some level of habitat," though not the quality that meets state standards.

Only 100 of the expected 600 decommissioned New York City subway cars had been deployed. Artificial reefs are popular with scuba divers as well as recreational anglers.

Subway cars used previously, called Redbirds, have not shown the same problem. The Redbirds are made of steel rather than stainless steel and have been used on New Jersey reef projects since 2003.

DEP still has plans to sink other items to build up the reefs, including rocks, boats and prefabricated reef balls.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Subway cars on a barge prior to deployment. Credit: NJDEP Department of Fish and Wildlife