A little more than a year after so-called "toxic seaweed" in one township neighborhood, officials are devising a plan to put seaweed cleanup on a regular maintenance schedule so there's no repeat of the incident that took place during the summer of 2011.
Residents of the Seawood Harbor neighborhood brought their concerns to local, county and state agencies in July 2011 after seaweed had collected in Barnegat Bay and washed up on a beach. The rotting seaweed caused hydrogen sulfide to be released, emitting a noxious odor in the air. Several residents said the gas caused sore throats, headaches and even vomiting.
The seaweed is back again this summer, residents have said, though the township has been relatively quick to clean up the mess. The township used a harvester vehicle to clean the seaweed off the beach.
"The problem was, with the change of tide and winds, it came back," said Linda Chris, a Rochester Drive resident.
Last summer, the township the rotting seaweed after residents complained, though the move could have been risky, since the state has levied fines on some towns after they have cleaned or otherwise touched the bay, which is under state jurisdiction.
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis said he has spoken with officials at the county and state levels and no permit from the Deparment of Environmental Protection is needed to clean the seaweed, and cleanups will eventually become part of a regular maintenance schedule through the Department of Public Works.
Acropolis said with the county's help, the harvester may be able to be placed on a county-owned barge and collected, then disposed of.
"I think that we're probably going to be able to use the harvester," said Acropolis. "We'll put it in a box, or on the barge, then dispose of it."
The seaweed issue in the neighborhood – – hadn't reared its head for years until last summer, when it came back with a vengeance.
"Last year was the first year in about 15 years it's been that bad," said Acropolis. "One neighbor said he's lived there 16 years and never saw it that bad."