Federal Officials urge Rutgers University to cancel seismic blast tests off New Jersey’s coast

Rutgers University has been urged by Federal and state lawmakers to cancel planned research that involves blasting the ocean floor with sound waves.

The New Jersey Senate president and a congressman who represent the Jersey shore have asked the university to back out of plans as the blasts would impact wildlife and the region's fishing and tourist industries significantly.

On Friday, a letter was sent to Rutgers president Robert Barchi by the U S Rep. Frank Pallone and Senate President Steven Sweeney. They have urged the president to cancel or postpone the seismic blast tests, which are part of a study examining sea level change over millions of years.

They wrote that the testing has the potential to harm or kill marine animals, including turtles, dolphins and whales.

According to them, the seismic blasts would not only impact New Jersey's environment resources, they could also disrupt and damage commercial and recreational fishing. State’s economy, tourism industry is dependent on fishing. They wrote that since Rutgers is leading this study, so only it can stop it.

However, E.J. Miranda, a spokesman for Rutgers, said that a thorough and exhaustive review of the project is being conducted by federal environmental, fish and wildlife regulators.

They would review compliance with all federal standards for the protection of natural resources.

However, federal environmental authorities have allowed university’s plans for the testing this year. Cindy Zipf, executive director of the Clean Ocean Action environmental group, has been leading the effort against the testing. According to her, the proposed testing this year would affect 26 times more marine animals than what was done last year.

She said, "We are on the cusp of Memorial Day weekend, and these legislators are coming to the rescue of the ocean. The gauntlet has been thrown down to Rutgers”.