Waste solids from the New York metropolitan region are a major source of sediment to adjacent ocean areas. Between 1964 and 1968, the annual discharge of solids (excluding refuse and floatable debris) to the New York Bight averaged 4.6 million metric tons per yr: 76 percent from dredged wastes, 12 percent from construction and demolition rubble, 7.6 percent from solids in. waste chemicals, and 4.3 percent from sewage sludges. Anomalously high concentrations of carbon and certain elements, such as copper, silver, and lead, in wastes permit identification of waste deposits in New York Harbor and at waste-disposal sites on the continental shelf. Waste-containing deposits cover about 160 sq km of New York Harbor and more than 50 sq km of continental shelf in New York Bight.
The continental shelf area used for waste disposal receives no other sediment in quantities sufficient to bury the waste deposits. Waste disposal operations are the largest sediment transport and depositional process now active in the mid-Atlantic region. Production of waste solids in the metropolitan region exceeds sediment yields per unit area of any other major drainage basin in the New England-Middle Atlantic area.