Wednesday, March 28, 2007

No dredging near piers in Point Judit

09:51 AM EST on Monday, March 5, 2007
By Peter B. Lord
Journal Environment Writer

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Charter boat operators will not see any dredging around the state piers in Point Judith this winter, because so much garbage was dredged up recently around nearby piers used by commercial fishermen. The refuse outraged surfers and other beach users when it washed ashore in Matunuck during the last two months.

The state Department of Environmental Management sought permission last week to dredge another 9,000 cubic yards from the channel that leads past the charter boat docks to the Great Island Bridge.

But the Coastal Resources Management Council, which regulates dredging in Rhode Island, would only approve dredging some 2,000 yards from a “hump” on the north edge of the channel.

“There is likely to be debris near the docks,” said CRMC dredging coordinator Danni Goulet last week. He said he knows the area needs to be dredged, but he wants to try to figure out a way to do the job next winter without dispersing all the garbage that turned up last month at the commercial fishing piers.

The new work was proposed as an add-on to a far larger project that has been going on for the last two months, the dredging of 120,000 cubic yards of sand from the channels in the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge.

A contractor has been barging the sand out of the harbor and dumping it just offshore to the west in Matunuck to help replenish the badly eroded beaches. By all accounts, the replenishment worked — South Kingstown Town Beach and RoyCarpenter’s Beach have broadened significantly.

But everyone was surprised by unforeseen truckloads of debris that went ashore with the sands. CRMC and Army Corps of Engineers officials said the garbage was dredged up only in the areas adjacent to the commercial fishing piers.

Beer cans, rubber boots, gloves, rope, bits of treat timber and even used diesel fuel filters came ashore with the tides.

Individuals and members of the Rhode Island Surfrider Foundation responded with complaints and their own cleanup efforts. The dredge contractor also assigned workers who filled pickup trucks with debris.

More than 100 people attended a meeting with dredging officials last month to protest and find out how to stop more dumping of refuse.

Goulet said he’s worked in the Great Lakes and all along the East Coast and never seen so much garbage come from one confined location in a harbor.

Larry Mouradjian, an associate director at DEM, which operates the piers, said the DEM would try to create an educational campaign to encourage people using the piers to not throw their garbage in the water.

All the dredging has to stop by March 15 because migratory birds and fish will be arriving.

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island and Save the Bay urged CRMC to do a better job next time.

David Prescott, chairman of the local Surfriders chapter, asked the officials to step up their efforts to remove the refuse from the dredge spoils. “Some of us are out there on a daily basis, and we’re concerned about old filet knives and other sharp metal,” he said.

CRMC chairman Michael Tikoian thanks the Surfriders for helping to clean and monitor the beaches.

CRMC staff estimates about 60,000 yards of sand have washed ashore, and another 30,000 may come ashore incoming weeks.

Group: Surf City alerted to ordnance

Surfriders say they warned of danger in beach project

By DONNA WEAVER Staff Writer, (609) 978-2015
(Published: March 27, 2007)

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SURF CITY — A spokesman for the Surfrider Foundation said he warned officials of ordnance being pumped onto the beach at the conception of the island beach-replenishment project.

“We've experienced dozens of these projects,” said John Weber. “This kind of thing has happened elsewhere. I'm surprised that more precautions were not taken.”

Five fuses for explosive projectiles, each more than 50 years old, were found earlier this month in newly placed beach sand between 17th and 24th streets. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is handling the beach-replenishment project, closed down that portion of the beach while it surveys the area looking for more explosives. The corps said last week that work may keep the beach closed past Memorial Day.

Weber said the Surfrider Foundation has seen the effects of dredging and beach-replenishment projects in Monmouth County.

Weber lives in Monmouth County but learned to surf on Long Beach Island, he said. Weber's family has owned its oceanfront home on the island for 34 years. He said he is glad that no one was hurt by the recently found ordnance.

“If I were a local or anybody who uses the beaches I'd be really mad and insulted this big beach was built and I couldn't use it. I think this was avoidable,” Weber said. “They say they used this magnetometer thing and it didn't show anything like this was going to happen.”

Weber said that leads him to two possible conclusions — that the Army Corps of Engineers used the magnetometer, an instrument used to detect the presence of magnetic material, and saw there were big chunks of metal in the sand and dredged it up anyway, or the device isn't accurate enough to give the necessary information.

“Why aren't these questions being asked of the Army Corps? They know this has happened before,” Weber said.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said a magnetometer was used at the start of the beach replenishment project.

“It's a highly technical metal detector used to scan the area before the dredging began and nothing was found,” Walls said.

Walls said the corps is still conducting an investigation into whether the ordnance could have been missed. He said it could potentially be that the ordnance was buried too deep.

This is the first time the Philadelphia District Corps has discovered ordnance, according to Walls. But this is not the first time a discovery like the one in Surf City has been made on the East Coast, he said.

“In the late '90s there were ordnance found on Bethany Beach in Delaware. We wrapped that scan up of the area pretty quickly,” Walls said.

Bethany Beach's offshore waters had been used for target practice by the U.S. Navy in World War II. A beach replenishment project, like the one in Surf City, dredged offshore sand and accidentally brought small ordnance items onto the beach, according to Geo-Centers, which is now part of Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, in San Diego, Calif.

Robert Siegel worked for Geo-Centers in the late 1990s when the ordnance was discovered on Bethany Beach. Siegel processed and analyzed the data collected in the survey of Bethany Beach.

“We see this a lot, ordnance washing up. It's fairly common, especially now with the development in shore communities and sand replenishment projects,” Siegel said in a phone interview Monday.

Siegel is currently doing survey work with the corps in Huntsville, Ala.

Bethany Beach was slated to open for the season two weeks from the date ordnance was discovered. Siegel said a rapid survey of the beach was conducted. Siegel said his memory was hazy because the survey was conducted almost 10 years ago, but he guessed the survey took a week to three weeks.

“But the time needed to collect the data is only part of the project,” Siegel said. “Data needs to be acquired, analyzed and once the data is analyzed, we come up with locations to dig. Digging can be time consuming, as well, depending on the number of digs.”

Siegel said that using a vehicle to survey the area contributed to it being completed quickly.

“Geo-Centers had a system that was called Stohls, (essentially) a dunebuggy ... with a bunch of metal detectors attached to it,” Siegel said. “Surveying with a vehicle, we surveyed closer to 10 to 20 acres a day. It certainly increases efficiency of the project.”

Walls said the corps is using a similar procedure in Surf City. The vehicle will be hooked up to a towed array of magnetometers, about three or four devices. Walls said the devices will be able to cover 15 to 20 feet of land.

“Our goal is to get the beaches up and running before Memorial Day. Safety is our priority. With the businesses and locals on our side, we'll get this done quickly,” Walls said.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

South Florida marine life faces peril with 'the wrong' beach

Miami Herald
Posted on Wed, Mar. 21, 2007


To survive constant assault from winds, waves and tides, beach sand has to be akin to Goldliock's porridge -- just right.

But it's been wrong too often in Florida's beach-building program, environmentalists and other critics contend. Now, they fear the pressure of South Florida's sand shortage could only worsen water quality problems that harm marine life, from tiny burrowing beach crabs to centuries-old corals.

''It's a simple fact that most of the offshore sand is not very durable in the beach zone,'' said Harold Wanless, chair of geological science at the University of Miami who has studied renourishment for years.

Grains too small float off to settle as silt on reefs Too big, they roll away with waves instead of sticking around. Too soft, they mush into mud. Too hard, they are tough on nesting turtles and human feet.

Since the 1970s, when regular renourishment efforts started, several studies have documented damage to corals, sponges and fish, including off Miami-Dade and Broward -- typically from water clouded by dredge scoops or from rebuilt beaches oozing what Wanless described as a ``time release of fine grain sand.''

Nesting turtles can turn away from bad rebuilds and burrowing mole crabs, known as ''sand fleas'' to anglers who dig them for bait, can be buried altogether.

''If you put the wrong sand down, the things that live in the beach just die,'' said Terry Gibson, an assistant editor with Florida Sportsman magazine who wrote a 2005 investigative series critical of dredging.

He has seen it happen twice within the last few years alone. First, inland sand poured on a stretch of St. Lucie County beach proved so cement-like that thousands of tons had to be scraped up and trucked away. Another job at Phipps Ocean Park in Palm Beach caked a popular snorkeling reef in suffocating silt, he said.

Regulators, engineering and dredging firms and the influential Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association, which lobbies for beach funds for counties, insist the widespread ripple effects of the past have been sharply reduced with better sand standards and reef monitoring.

''Clearly, there is no argument there are short-term impacts,'' said Debbie Flack, government affairs director for the association. ``Yes, we've gotten better. No, it's not perfect. We still need to work at it.''

Flack points out that the St. Lucie debacle often cited by critics wasn't a beach widening but an emergency dune repair -- and the state did order the bad sand removed. But she acknowledged environmental oversight suffered during the unprecedented sand-pumping of the last two years to repair the storm-battered coast.

''We rushed projects and as sand sources become more limited, we may be accepting sand quality that isn't acceptable,'' she said. ``Those are issues we need to study and make better.''

With the Legislature declaring beach building in the public interest, regulators must strike a ''delicate balance'' between the environmental and economic considerations, said Paden Woodruff, who supervises beach management for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

''You have to balance the cost of not protecting these areas and the billions of dollars of private property, public property and public infrastructure that is protected by the shoreline,'' he said. ``The economics will always be there.''

But Gibson and T.J. Marshall of the South Florida chapter of The Surfrider Foundation, a group that monitors beach projects, said the program has only encouraged decades of coastal building that has put more people and property at risk.

Both advocate sharply increased ''bypassing'' efforts, meaning mining of sand that builds naturally in some spots for use in erosion hot spots -- a step embraced by regulators.

Marshall said the state has dredged itself into an unsustainable and expensive hole of creating unnaturally wide beaches that begin to erode as soon as they're completed.

''They want to have these beaches that are two football fields wide and those beaches don't exist in Florida,'' Marshall said. ``A natural beach is only 30 to 40 yards wide at maximum.''

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

2001 beach benefits short-lived

A surfer walks on the narrow beach at Terra Mar in Carlsbad south of Tamarack Beach Wednesday.
BILL WECHTER Staff Photographer
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By: DAVE DOWNEY - Staff Writer

NORTH COUNTY ---- It was nice while it lasted. When the San Diego Association of Governments dredged up enough sand from the ocean bottom to fill Qualcomm Stadium and piped it onshore in the summer of 2001, San Diego County had some of the finest beaches around.

From Oceanside to Imperial Beach, once-narrow beaches suddenly were 25 to 100 feet wider than they were before the association spent $17.5 million and spread 2 million cubic yards of the fine material along six miles of the county's coastline.

But it didn't last. Winter arrived and storm swells battered the coast. And the manufactured beaches were swept back out to sea.

Within a year, most had thinned by 20 feet to 60 feet, according to a report by Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. Most shrank more the following year.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cancun, Nature at War Over Beaches

People walk along the beach in Cancun, Mexico, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007. A year after Mexico spent millions to replace its hurricane-devastated beaches, Cancun is fighting against Mother Nature once again: erosion is shrinking its sandy playground. Waves at high tide now lap against the decks of some new, glitzy hotels. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Associated Press Writer

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) -- Cancun and Mother Nature are at war again.

Mexico spent $19 million to replace beaches washed away by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, but erosion has shrunk Cancun's sandy playground to the point where waves at high tide lap against some hotel patios.

To bring tourists pouring back after Hurricane Wilma, the ocean floor was dredged to rebuild eight miles of beach, nearly double their pre-hurricane size, and hotels were refurbished.

Just a year after the grand refurbishment was completed, the beaches have shrunk again, from 100 feet to less than 70 feet at mid-tide in the tourist zone, and swimmers are forced to clamber down 3-foot drops in the sand level to reach the water.

Most sections of beach remain about as wide as before the hurricane hit, although some are less - barely 30 feet wide - and the sea is relentlessly munching away at what's left, said biologist Alfredo Arellano, Yucatan director for the government's Commission for Natural Protected Areas.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Unearthing weapons of past destruction

Some fear dredging will find more bombs

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 03/7/07


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SURF CITY — The five World War II-era bomb devices found scattered on Surf City's new beachfill have caused some unease about what else could be pumped from the ocean bed during the beach replenishment project here.

John Weber of the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group, said Tuesday he raised concerns to Long Beach Island town officials more than a year ago over dredging up old chemical weapons from the sea, citing newspaper accounts of such material being dumped off the coasts of at least 11 states, including New Jersey, at the end of World War II.

"I see these articles about (the military) having no idea where this stuff is now," said Weber, who has been a vocal critic of the beachfill project. "And we go dredging around off our shore. God forbid we dredge these things up and onto our beach."

The Army Corps of Engineers has conducted ocean floor surveys and historical research to try to ensure that no explosive waste from past military activity is within the dredge area of the replenishment project, which was recently finished in Surf City and could continue on beaches on most of the island.

The five fuses and fuse adapters found last week, however, could have escaped the survey's radar.

"There is limited potential to find unexploded ordnance in the offshore borrow areas (where sand is taken to replenish beaches) along the coast of LBI, due to World War I and World War II Naval activities," a portion the corps' feasibility study reads.

The corps' project manager, Keith Watson, said the area where the ordnance were found — between 17th and 24th streets — has been closed temporarily and the corps will contract Army munitions specialists to sweep the shore of the entire borough, "just to be safe."

Watson said all that remains to do in Surf City is install dune crossovers and a handicap entrance, and that work could commence within weeks.

The first fuse was found Friday by a person combing the beach with a metal detector. Over the next couple of days, another resident and beachfill workers found the other four. The mix of fuses and adapters to attach the fuses have been disposed of by a bomb squad from Fort Monmouth. Three of the devices contained explosives, said Timothy Rider, a Fort Monmouth spokesman.

The cylindrical adaptors and the nine-inch long fuses, which are shaped like a miniature train whistle, resembled those manufactured in the United States and used during World War II, Rider said.

Historians say military activity off the island was prevalent during the war. So it was not surprising to John Dorrity, director of the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau, that fuses had surfaced in Surf City — but worrisome nonetheless.

"It's scary when it comes up on a dredging project because you got civilians finding them," he said. "It presents a unique problem. Old ordnance can be very unstable."

Surf City Mayor Leonard T. Connors Jr. viewed the discoveries as typical, however.

"I've seen whales on the beach . . . and destroyers on the beach. You name it, I've seen it," Connors said. "This is not a cataclysmic event that happens once in a lifetime."

Zach Patberg: (609) 978-4582 or

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