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The Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) prides itself on being a great community partner in the fight against litter. The pandemic has not slowed down its involvement.

The New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) created an awards program to honor those, such as the DRBA, who stepped up to help its communities during the pandemic through it’s “Rise to the Challenge Awards.” DRBA’s efforts this year certainly go beyond community donations, prompting this statewide recognition.

The DRBA, which owns and operates the Cape May – Lewes Ferry, formed a facility Green Team in 2019. In partnership with the DRBA Environmental, Health & Safety Department, the Cape May - Lewes Ferry has achieved several environmental milestones and implemented many environmental best practices over the past year.

When the Cape May – Lewes Ferry food service operations had to shutter its doors in March, the Food and Retail Department donated a truckload of food supplies to the Gleaning Center Food Pantry at Seashore Community Church of the Nazarene in Erma, NJ. The large donation included a variety of items, such as frozen foods, canned goods, bottled beverages, as well as individually-wrapped packaged items like soup, cereal, oatmeal, crackers, and cakes. 

“Instead of returning the items for credit, the Ferry’s Food and Retail team coordinated with its suppliers to donate the food provisions locally,” said Albert Fralinger, DRBA Environmental Compliance and Safety Manager.

The DRBA also donated 4,000 N95 respirator masks and 2,000 pairs of nitrile disposable gloves to help the medical community and first responders meet the increased need for protective equipment. Five hundred masks and 250 pairs of nitrile gloves were provided to each of the following: Salem Medical Center, Cape Regional Medical Center Cumberland County Fire/EMS and Gloucester County Fire/EMS.  

A major part of DRBA’s efforts include safety reminders for employees and the traveling public. Through the pandemic, the ferry has been running on a reduced operating schedule.

Waste Management, Inc. provided DRBA employees at the start of the pandemic with waste disposal and recycling guidance related to COVID waste, such as masks and gloves. Employees received additional training on other important guidelines - such as mask wearing and social distancing - and are expected to lead by example when dealing with passengers. The DRBA also installed signage in terminals and on the vessels that reinforce the importance of proper social distancing and disposal of PPE.

“Employees are constantly reminded that social distancing isn't just for guests or customers,” said Silvana Dominioni, DRBA Director of Environmental, Health and Safety. “It has been ingrained in our employees that social distancing is important for each of us in meetings, when walking on and off vessels, and when interacting with other team members in any way.”

This year, the DRBA has installed refillable water stations and updated the site waste collection container to prevent precipitation from entering waste roll off and impacting storm water. Storm water drain guards have also been installed in passenger parking areas to prevent blowing litter and trash/plastic bottles from entering the facility stormwater system.  

“The DRBA, as a bi-state governmental agency, has done tons of great work for communities in both New Jersey and Delaware that the NJCCC is very pleased to honor the organization with this award,” said NJCCC Executive Director Sandy Huber. “During a time when everyone could use a little support, the DRBA has found multiple ways to give back to its community.”

The Cape May – Lewes Ferry also paid tribute to local healthcare works over the summer by playing “Bravo-Zulu” on the vessel’s horn on the last departure each day in June. The combination of the nautical signal flags Bravo-Zulu (also referred to as “BZ”) is a naval signal meaning “Well done” with regards to actions, operations, or performance.

Learn more about the NJCCC at NJClean.org.

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