Since 1977, the issue of ecological impact especially to wetlands, has been totally associated with filling and/or development, with little concern for the issue of contamination until August 2011 when the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (NJDEP’s) published its Ecological Evaluation Guidance Manual. However, David L. Poling, President of Professional Environmental Associates, LLC began studying the environmental impact on ecosystems including wetlands by contaminant releases as far back as 1974 and assessing roadway runoff contamination in 1977. After receiving his Bachelors of Science in Forestry and Wildlife Biology in 1974 at Rutgers University’s College of Agriculture & Environmental Science/Cook College in New Brunswick, Mr. Poling was accepted at Cook College for a Masters in Environmental Sciences, which was when his training began in contamination. After graduating in 1977, he began conducting ecological assessments for several major highway projects and landfills, mainly in New Jersey, as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process, and conducting other environmental studies, some overseas. Some of these other studies included a DDT Disposal Study for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, site contamination studies for New Jersey Transit’s Kearny Railroad Maintenance Facility in Kearny, New Jersey, closure plans and/or environmental impact assessments for municipal landfills in New Jersey, the Boston Harbor Debris Study in Boston, Massachusetts and cleanup and site restoration for Port Liberte and adjacent areas in Jersey City. At this time, he became heavily involved with applying for and securing permits from, 1) the Federal Government specifically the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) under Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act, 2) New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) for wetlands, 3) NJDEP under the Wetlands Act of 1970 (N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1) for tidal wetlands, the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act and associated Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7A), the Flood Hazard Area Control Act and associated Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:13), the Waterfront Development Act (N.J.S.A. 12:5-3), Coastal Area Facility Review Act/CAFRA (N.J.S.A. 13:19), the Coastal Permit Program Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7), Coastal Zone Management Rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E),and Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act (N.J.A.C. 7:38) and 4) the New Jersey Pinelands Protection Act (N.J.S.A. 13:18A).
Because of his interest in impacts to the ecosystem from site contamination, especially runoff from highways and landfills, Mr. Poling went back to college for a second Masters in Science with his ultimate goal of obtaining a Ph.D. in Zoology at Rutgers in Newark. The professor he selected as his advisor and mentor was Ms. Judith Weiss, because of her work in contamination impacts to aquatic life. Mr. Poling conducted several years of research on Berry’s Creek in the Hackensack Meadowlands, mainly because of the contamination he became aware of during his work on the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed but never built Berry’s Creek Center, a very large regional shopping center.
Mr. Poling’s Ph.D. research initially concentrated on the extent of Mercury contamination in the sediments of Berry’s Creek, which was emanating from the Velsicol Site where there was a mercury manufacturing plant, and the character of the creek’s abiotic environment and ecosystem from the tide gate above the plant down to the Hackensack River. The research then expanded to laboratory work on the toxicological impact of contaminated sediments on the Fiddler Crab, Uca minax, because of the observed disappearance of the crab after the Meadowlands Sport Complex and mercury concentration gradient in the creek. Initially this laboratory work concentrated on Methyl-mercury but then expanded to Cadmium Chloride, then Cadmium and mercury mix and then to groups of organic compounds including base-neutrals. Based on his research, it is our understanding that the issue of contamination of the creek as subsequently studied by others, expanded to additional contaminants other than mercury and additional sources of contamination other than the Velsicol site.
During his Ph.D. research and thereafter, Mr. Poling conducted additional preliminary and comprehensive studies for specialized ecological reports or technical support documents and as major components of Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Site Assessments or Audits. Studies included conducting natural resource and population inventories including Endangered and Threatened Species, habitat evaluations and assessing project impact and population changes due to natural and man-made activities. Has extensive training and experience is not only in the aquatic ecosystem and wetland but also in terrestrial habitats, vegetation, wildlife, foodchains and foodwebs, and entire ecosystems. Inventory techniques utilized include visual inventories or identification, vegetation transects and quadrangles, wildlife trapping and netting programs, and aquatic sampling programs such as trapping, netting and electroshocking.
In or about 1990, Mr. Poling began obtaining more formal training and working in the field of site contamination and remediation. He subsequently obtained a multitude of certificates and licenses as well as Professional Environmental Associates, LLC.