Bonnie Sheppard

                                  201 460-8898

                                  September 14,  2000





Research Projects to protect Hackensack River Watershed



     The Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission, together with Rutgers University, today announced a joint venture between Ben Gurion-University of the Negev in Beer-Sheva, Israel, and the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute (MERI) to collaborate on projects that will enhance the Commission’s environmental remediation efforts for the Meadowlands District.


     MERI, a research center for scientific investigation of urban and coastal wetlands, is a creation of HMDC and Rutgers University-Newark’s Center for Information Management, Integration and Connectivity (CIMIC).  The institute performs inter-disciplinary research and long-term ecological studies.


     The joint international cooperative venture will involve both universities in researching common scientific issues in environmental remediation and management. 


     Today’s joint communiqué is another step forward in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Governor Whitman and the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology when the Governor led a trade mission to Israel in November, 1996.


          Professor Avishay Braverman, President of Ben-Gurion University, believes the projects announced today blend the needs of his country with the goals of Governor Whitman to ensure environmental improvements for the state’s watersheds.  Israel is a world leader in the treatment of water.            


     “I am thrilled to be working with Governor Whitman in developing technological advances that will benefit all our peoples,” Braverman said.  “The opportunity to explore common scientific issues in environmental remediation and management in our regions appeals to us both.”


     “The addition of world-renowned specialists from Ben-Gurion to our already impressive group of MERI scientists helps us further the Governor’s mission,” said Jane M. Kenny, HMDC Chairman.  “Blending high-tech scientific research with our planning initiatives advances our goals for the future of the Meadowlands District.” 


     The joint venture will permit cooperative research in developing and testing a faster, more sensitive method of assessing contamination in the Hackensack River and wetlands.  Biologic sensors combine genetically-engineered bacteria and fiber optics to detect and monitor contaminants in water and sediment.  The new method will be useful to the HMDC in prioritizing district cleanup efforts and in monitoring their progress.    


     A second project will employ ultra-efficient filtration to remove pollutants from landfill leachate, a tea-colored liquid that results from the mixing of rainwater with decomposing garbage.  Presently, leachate spills into the Hackensack River and wetlands from  improperly closed landfills that have been orphaned or for which there currently is no funding source available for their environmental cleanup.


     The new filtration techniques can reduce the cost of treating leachate and prevent pollutants from entering the environment. 


          “Ben-Gurion University has had a long-term productive relationship with Dr. Nabil Adam,  Rutgers CIMIC’s Founding Director,” said Professor Nachum Finger, Rector of Ben-Gurion.  “Our faculty is excited to begin this collaboration and is pleased to be working with MERI scientists to support the goals of the HMDC.” 





     “This collaboration is another step in our efforts to bring world-class researchers to our continuing research into solving environmental problems in the Meadowlands and New Jersey as a whole,” said Dr. Adam.


     “We have combined the resources of the HMDC and Rutgers-CIMIC to make environmental research a priority in the Meadowlands,” said Alan J. Steinberg, HMDC Executive Director.  “CIMIC is carrying out wonderful academic research in the Meadowlands.  Adding internationally renowned experts in environmental remediation from Ben-Gurion to the team strengthens our efforts further.  We are especially proud that MERI will be performing the research for this area.”


     Work on these new research projects is expected to begin before the end of this year.