Beach Renourishment Project That's Killed Sea Turtles May Have Used Wrong Sand

Loggerhead turtle wading in the South Florida ocean.
Loggerhead turtle wading in the South Florida ocean.
NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, we told you about how the Town of Palm Beach's sand renourishment project has killed endangered sea turtles in Midtown Beach. But now it seems that the project may have been fouled up further. According to the Palm Beach Post, town officials are saying the sand brought in to renourish the beach might be too fine.

The news comes from a report filed over the weekend by engineer Karyn Erickson, one of the engineers working for the Coalition to Save Our Shoreline citizens group.

The project, carried out by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, cost $17.6 million and has brought in about 800,000 cubic yards of sand from off the coast and deposited it onto Midtown Beach. 

But samples taken on April 4 near Seaview Avenue show that the sand is "non-compliant" and "very fine grained sand."

According to the Palm Beach Island Beach Management Agreement, sand pumped into Midbeach is to have a minimum mean grain size of 0.25 mm.

Erickson's report and samples found mean grain sizes of 0.16mm, 0.13mm, and 0.14mm. A study by the state Department of Environmental Protection shows similar results.

The result, according to these findings, is that the sand is too fine.

The town debated over the project months before it began, and now it seems someone screwed up. This, on top of the fact that the project itself has taken out at least four sea turtles and maimed another. The turtles are being hurt and killed by a hopper trawling vessel that sucks up sand from the bottom with a suction tube. 

A message from New Times to Town of Palm Beach Coastal Coordinator Rob Weber has not been returned.

Erickson has requested more information from the Town of Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Post reports. Among the info she's requested are dates and locations of where exactly the dredge was when it collected the sand and how deep it went to collect it.

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