Mitch Yost

In this video, Mitch Yost participates in a long forgotten PSA to help cross border water pollution in Imperial Beach, CA. The video was found on a faded VHS tape by a local IB resident at a yard sale. Discovering the Yost PSA on the tape, the resident uploaded it to share with other fans of 70’s era soul surfer. Hope you enjoy this little relic from the JFC series.

Mining Of Coastal Sand: A Critical Environmental And Economic Problem For Morocco


Photo source: ©SAF

Summary

In Morocco, the extraction of beach and dune sand for use in the construction industry is destroying significant portions of the nation’s natural heritage. The authors of this report have significant experience in evaluating coastal mining worldwide. We believe that the coastal sand mining operations that we witnessed in Morocco are the world’s largest. In addition, the environmental impacts of the sand extraction are likewise enormous. Beach mining, mainly near Morocco’s major coastal cities, has created lunar-like landscapes on the coast, destroyed the littoral marine ecosystem, is endangering adjacent wetlands, and has significantly increased the vulnerability of coastal infrastructure to storms and rising sea level. Once beautiful coastal dunes have been entirely removed along long reaches of shoreline. This is a potential economic disaster for coastal tourism in Morocco. Many beaches have been so heavily impacted by mining that they have been rendered unusable for touristic development. For the sake of its future generations, Morocco should halt the mining of coastal sand now and find new sources of aggregate.

The authors base the following report on fieldwork conducted in Summer 2007 and on interviews with local, coastal residents.

Introduction to the Issue

Most open-ocean shorelines have sand deposits that exist in equilibrium with wave, current and wind processes. This sand exists in several connected environments. Onshore there are beaches, with sand deposited by waves and currents, and sand dunes deposited by the wind. Offshore, there is sand stored on the shoreface (reaching from the beach out to a depth of 10 m or so) and in deltas (tidal and river). These deposits are linked to one another such that addition or removal of sand from one area affects all of the other environments. For this paper, we refer to all sand deposits that are connected to (i.e. are currently shrinking or growing) the present marine environment as the coastal sand body. Some coasts have sand bodies that are somewhat disconnected from the modern coastal sand deposits. This sand may occur well below or above present sea level representing deposits formed in the past when the level of the ocean was higher or lower than today.

Beaches can provide a cheap source of sand for use in concrete and for a variety of other construction purposes. Beach sand is inexpensive because it is already unconsolidated and is easy to remove with front-end loaders or even by hand loading of trucks. The continuous activity of surf zone waves provides a well-sorted sand that is free of mud. Perhaps most significantly, beaches are often not privately owned, they are public, and represent a “free” source of aggregate to those willing to take it.

Most beach sand is derived locally from sea cliff erosion or from rivers that drain the upland (Figures 1 and 2).

The sand grains travel along a particular beach either by shore-parallel or shore- perpendicular transport in surf zone currents formed by waves. Speaking in general terms, the Moroccan coast has a very large coastal sand body resupplied by regular erosion of cliffs and episodic injections from rivers in flood. The Moroccan coastal sand body is much larger than the coastal sand bodies of the East and Gulf coasts of North America. We can only assume that those engaged in sand mining in Morocco believe that they will do little harm because the original sand deposits were so large. Sadly, this is not the case.

Mining of beach and dune sand is a global phenomenon. In recognition of the damage that such mining does and of the need to preserve beaches for future generations, mining has effectively been halted in many countries. Yet, it remains an important global problem. We have recently documented environmentally damaging beach mining in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Mining of coastal sand bodies has gone on for as long as humans have lived near the shore. Initially it occurred on a bucketful scale and at a local level. Now it occurs on the scale of long lines of large dump trucks containing more than 10 cubic meters of sand each. As humans have devised more efficient ways to remove large volumes of sand and as shorefront development has simultaneously increased, coastal sand mining has become a major global problem.

We believe that at the present time, the most extensive mining of onshore coastal sand in the world occurs in Morocco. In July, 2007, we observed an operation that likely involved the removal of hundreds of dump trucks of coastal sand in a single day (Figure 3). Many coastal environments have been removed completely over hundreds of hectares. The damage is stunning and saddening.

The problems created by sand mining are numerous. Below is a brief summary focusing on the problems recently documented in Morocco.

  • Potential tourism site destruction Many mining sites on the coast of Morocco are remote, but fabulously beautiful (Figure 4). While maintaining a healthy ecosystem, hotel complexes could readily be constructed within the still-extensive coastal sand dunes of Morocco. The seasonal dry, sunny weather, warm coastal ocean with excellent surfing and swimming opportunities and proximity to existing international airports in Casablanca, Rabat and Tangiers represent an extraordinary combination of conditions conducive to tourism. Sand mining has turned these sites into ugly moonscapes that no tourist would want to visit. With the sand gone, the beaches are too hard for lounging on. They are even difficult to walk on.
  • Coastal ecosystem loss Sand mining has resulted in the total destruction of the coastal ecosystems in many areas of northern Morocco. This includes the beach (impacting nesting shorebirds and sea turtles), the dunes (impacting rare endemic vegetation), and coastal wetlands (impacting migratory waterfowl among other organisms).
  • Destruction of the nearshore marine ecosystem Removal of beach sand can also impact the nearshore distribution of sand on the shoreface (in shallow water). Anytime the nature of the nearshore bottom sediment is changed, there is a corollary ecosystem change. Many organisms are adapted to a particular substrate.
  • Aesthetics/Lunar landscape end result It is hard to imagine how ugly some of the mined sites in Morocco are.
  • No sand reserve for natural beach storm response Large beaches and large coastal dunes can provide excellent protection from storms, tsunamis, and other large wave events. Beach mining increases the vulnerability of all coastal infrastructure and ecosystems that were once protected.
  • Increased shoreline erosion rates Removing sand from the beach and from adjacent dunes will increase the shoreline erosion rate for the impacted shoreline (even as rising sea level increases the threat of long-term coastal erosion). In addition, neighboring, unmined shorelines may also see an increase in erosion as the shoreline reaches a new equilibrium.
  • Destruction of archaeological sites Removal of coastal sand can directly and indirectly threaten coastal archaeological resources.

The seasonal dry, sunny weather, warm coastal ocean with excellent surfing and swimming opportunities and proximity to existing international airports in Casablanca, Rabat and Tangiers represent an extraordinary combination of conditions conducive to tourism. Sand mining has turned these sites into ugly moonscapes that no tourist would want to visit. With the sand gone, the beaches are too hard for lounging on. They are even difficult to walk on.

Types of coastal sand mining in Morocco

We observed several types of coastal sand mining south of Tangiers in Morocco in July, 2007. The following examples are listed in order of the degree of economic and environmental damage. The first approach, bluff top mining is the least damaging and direct mining of the intertidal zone is the most damaging.

  • Bluff top mining – This approach is currently active in the extensive operations south of Larache (Figure 5). The sand being removed here, in spite of its location well above the local beach and dune, may still be a part of the active coastal sand system. That is, the sand here may still occasionally supply new sand to the beach in processes such as storm recovery. More important, however, is the loss of a beautiful and rare dune system with a rare ecosystem adjusted to much wind and salt spray. The lost dune would have been an asset for a future touristic development because of its safe location with commanding views high above the sea. In addition, these areas represent potential archaeological sites. They should be surveyed before they are mined. National treasures are at risk. Nevertheless, mining these perched dunes is less destructive to the coastal ecosystem than the mining listed below.
  • Back dune mining – Large reaches of Morocco’s massive coastal dune complex have been entirely removed by sand mining creating a landscape with deep pits and steep slopes hazardous to passersby (Figure 6). It seems obvious that these areas will continue to be mined and in future decades the sand pits will extend to the beach. This is the general pattern of coastal sand mining in Morocco; mine the dune first and when it no longer exists, mine the beach itself. Even though many of these sand pits are not visible from the beach, the hazards to dune hikers they afford and their aesthetic limitations effectively preclude future touristic development along long stretches of the coast.
  • Beach Mining 1: Long, flat beach on coastal plain– This abandoned mining site represents the impacts of mining on a relatively flat plain immediately adjacent to the beach. The beach is flat and wide at low tide and relatively narrow at high tide (Figure 7). The rocky layers that once were buried in sand replace dunes. The dune ecosystem is completely gone. Back-dune vegetation is dying because it is no longer protected from salt spray and wind by dunes. Wetlands are at risk because of sand and salt intrusion. The coastal road to Tangier will occasionally be flooded and perhaps even eroded in places in future storms due to the lack of protective dunes. The beach will not experience normal storm recovery because of the lack of dune sand and erosion (shoreline retreat) rates can be expected to increase significantly in future years. Present and future buildings constructed to get a sea view will be endangered in future storms.
  • sand-mining-maroc
    Photo source: ©SAF

  • Beach Mining 2: narrow beach backed by “lunar landscape”— This abandoned mining site is the endpoint of mining coastal sand on a beach backed by relatively steep inland slopes (Figure 8). In this undeveloped area no buildings or infrastructure are threatened. A beautiful potential touristic development site is completely eliminated and because of the ugliness of the mined site adjacent to the beach and the “attractive nuisance” hazard to hikers. It is fair to say that no future tourism site is feasible as such for miles in either direction. The loss of overall sand volumes at this site is likely to increase overall shoreline retreat rates on adjacent shorelines in both directions.

The Solutions

Future mining of the modern coastal sand body should be avoided. There are numerous alternative sources of sand available, most of which will be at least slightly more expensive than the presently used coastal sand.

On all coasts with low inland slopes, “fossil” coastal sand bodies exist that were deposited in the geologic past when the level of the ocean was higher or lower than today. These older sand bodies are often no longer directly connected to modern coastal ecosystems. Such sand bodies, where they are present, offer promise as sand mining sites that would be much less damaging than the mining of the current coastal sand body that is in equilibrium with the sea.

In Europe and North America, where population density is very high near that coast, offshore mining of sand is a common occurrence. Morocco possesses extensive higher-than-present coastal sand deposits (Figure 9), and likely harbors substantial offshore reserves. Finally, crushing rock is an alternative that many Caribbean Island nations have turned to.

If mining continues on some limited basis, reclamation (reshaping) of the impacted landscapes must be required. In some areas reclamation of existing, abandoned mining sites should be considered.

Future regulations and decisions concerning sand mining in Morocco should consider the need to provide future generations of Moroccans with high quality, healthy beaches. The long term economic potential of healthy, beautiful beaches is huge and is worthy of extensive efforts to preserve them.

Orrin H. Pilkey, James B Duke Professor of Earth Sciences Emeritus Nicholas School of the Environmenmt Duke University Durham, NC, USA

Robert S. Young, Director, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC, USA

Joseph Kelley, Chairman, Department of Earth Sciences University of Maine at Orono Orono, ME, USA

Adam D. Griffith, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC, USA

California panel urges immediate action to protect from rising sea levels

Maldives President Nasheer
President Mohamed Nasheed signs a declaration during the first underwater cabinet meeting in the Maldives

By Margot Roosevelt

As California officials see it, global warming is happening so there’s no time to waste in figuring out what to do.

California’s interagency Climate Action Team on Wednesday issued the first of 40 reports on impacts and adaptation, outlining what the state’s residents must do to deal with the floods, erosion and other effects expected from rising sea levels.

Hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars of Golden State infrastructure and property would be at risk if ocean levels rose 55 inches by the end of the century, as computer models suggest, according to the report.

The group floated several radical proposals: limit coastal development in areas at risk from sea rise; consider phased abandonment of certain areas; halt federally subsidized insurance for property likely to be inundated; and require coastal structures to be built to adapt to climate change.

“Immediate action is needed,” said Linda Adams, secretary for environmental protection. “It will cost significantly less to combat climate change than it will to maintain a business-as-usual approach.”

Few topics are likely to be more contentious than coastal development. But along the state’s 2,000-mile shoreline the effects would be acute, particularly in San Mateo and Orange counties, where more than 100,000 people would be affected, according to the 99-page state-commissioned report by the Oakland-based Pacific Institute.

Detailed maps of the coastline, published on the institute’s website, show that residential neighborhoods in Venice and Marina del Rey could find themselves in a flood zone. Water could cover airports in San Francisco and Oakland, parts of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and large swaths of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

Roads, schools, hospitals, sewage plants and power plants may have to be relocated. More than 330 hazardous waste sites are at risk from floods.

“The rising sea level could be California’s version of Hurricane Katrina,” said Michael Woo, a Los Angeles planning commissioner and urban planning professor at USC. “Taxpayers and insurance ratepayers might question their responsibility to help homeowners and businesses which knowingly build in high-risk coastal areas.”

California’s far-reaching adaptation initiative reflects an emerging global consensus: Scientists can argue over how fast the Earth is heating up and diplomats can wrangle over emissions caps, but politicians must begin planning for the certainty of climate change.

Maldives Underwater Meeting

Rebuilding Communities in Flood Prone Coastal Zones

Destruction from Hurricane Ike
Destruction from Hurricane Ike. Photo: Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines

Hurricane Katrina destroyed communities in Louisiana. Ike leveled the Port Bolivar peninsula and parts of Galveston. But Galveston has been destroyed before. With the damage from hurricane Ike still being totaled and hurricane Katrina still in our memories, what is the answer?

Question: Should we rebuild communities in flood prone coastal zones? Who should pay for the rebuilding? Is it fair to ask residents of Kansas to pay taxes for rebuilding of roads and structures on the coast? What do you think?

Cambodia Under Sandmen’s Spell

Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh (Cambodia). 30/12/2008: Pipes used for the filling of Boeung Kak lake with sand dredged from the Mekong.

By Corinne Callebaut and Ros Dina

Since Singapore was banned from mining sand in Indonesia, the city-state – which surface area covers less than 650 km2 – is struggling to fiand the sand it needs for its gigantic land reclamation and construction projects. As a result, it turned to a much less discriminating country, where the buying cost of sand remains quite inexpensive, Cambodia. For the last year, the provinces of Koh Kong and Kandal have seen a heavy traffic of boats, which sometimes arrive in dozens to dredge the seabed or dig along the coasts to collect as much sand as possible and export it to Singapore. There, companies will sell it for as much as four times the initial price, according to environmentalist NGO Global Witness, who also points at the lack of transparency around this market. Something that stirs greed but also worries marine conservation organisations, who fear the impact of the intensive exploitation. Justifiably so, as villagers have already complained with the authorities after the resulting collapse of their houses.

Dredgers Lured By the Sand

Koh Kong is known for its lush nature and hilly jungle, but the coastal province has also become a heaven… for dredgers, which are characterised by their imposing iron structure. For a few months, large boats coming to dredge the seabed have approached the shores of the province. Their goal: to fill up their barge with hundreds of tonnes of sand. Does the Cambodian rock dust possess any property ignored by all until recently? Actually, as Singapore has felt a little too cramped in its 647 km2 territory, it has urgently looked for great quantities of sand, an essential component of concrete.

Singapore Stirs the Sandmen

As the city-state had long exhausted its own supplies of sand, neighbouring Indonesia was its main supplier for many years. But in February 2007, the latter put an end to sand exports towards Singapore by imposing a ban that is still in force, as the relationship between Singapore and Indonesia remains conflicting. The reason: the intensive dredging by the smallest nation in Southeast Asia has reportedly resulted in the archipelago losing several islands, that were literally devoured by excavators. Authorities even expressed fear that the losses may jeopardise their territorial sovereignty. “Sand mining had caused very severe environmental damage in Indonesia, including in the islands of Sebayik and Nipah,” Desra Percaya, spokesperson of Indonesian Foreign Ministry, had then declared in Indonesian daily Jakarta Post.

Losing its main supplier, Singapore had worried about the higher cost of importing sand if it had to find other suppliers somewhere else and even forecast an increase by 3% of the price in relation to Indonesian sand. In their search for inexpensive sand, the barges of sand companies eventually dropped anchor off the coasts of Cambodia. The Kingdom offers not only unbeatable prices but also comparatively favourable conditions.

Shifting Sands

In its report entiteld “Country for Sale ” made public on Thursday February 5th, Global Witness, an NGO specialised in monitoring natural resource management and campaigning on human rights, devotes three pages to the opacity which it says surrounds the trade of sand in Cambodia. Several witnesses interrogated by the organisation have thus reported that many ships belonging to Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese companies, came to purchase sand off the coasts of Koh Kong province, with the intention for all to export it to Singapore. The organisation spoke to workers who reportedly claimed that documents, contracts and payments were all directed to the office of Ly Yong Phat, a Senator affiliated with the ruling party CPP who dominates business enterprise in the province and is often criticised by human rights organisations for the forced evictions of residents from the many lands he has acquired.

“I completely refute the allegations from Global Witness,” Ly Yong Phat replied in a telephone interview to Ka-set. “The government has granted me this concession for sand mining, so it is normal that I am the referee. Besides, I am not the only one responsible, there is also another person. I am in charge of the area of Koh Pao and Svay Ambel rivers, and since I started to be in charge of the mining, floods have stopped happening. I even denied authorisation to a Thai company because there was not enough sand… I think exports in the province do not exceed 4,000 tonnes a month.”

Also contacted by Ka-set, Pech Siyon, head of the industry office in Koh Kong, estimates the quantity of sand dredged around Koh Kong province to be between 7,000 and 8,000 tonnes a week. “Three companies have been authorised to mine sand for about one year: Ly Yong Phat Group Company [owned by the above-mentioned Senator], Odom Cement Company Ltd and Dani Trading. Each exploits specific zones,” he explains. “Apart from these companies, no one else has the right to mine sand. Some do it but under the direction of the three companies who have received official approval.”

Global Witness estimates that nearly 15,000 tonnes of sand are exported each week… which would mean an annual revenue of 8.6 million dollars for the sand industry in Koh Kong province.

Environment: Danger warning?

In addition to the lack of transparency over this market, another source of concern exists: the risk that the intensive pumping might endanger deep-sea ecosystems. Following the example of the disappearance and collapse of islands in Indonesia, Cambodia unfortunately seems to also suffer from the intensive sand dredging.

For example, inland, despite the bans from the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, many ships have come to extract sand in tributaries of the Tonle Bassac, in the area of Takhmau, in Kandal province. Yet, many villagers have complained with authorities that their house and land started to collapse, which had never happened before. According to a member of an NGO very active on environmental issues related to the Tonle Bassac, who prefers to speak anonymously, “the dredging has become intensive for some time. It is mobile dredging, boats are constantly moving from one place to another. It is completely illegal, but in spite of many promises, the government does not seem very active in fighting these activities.”

For his part, a worker of another environmental organisation, who also prefers to speak under anonymity, worries about the possible impact of intensive sand dredging on the seabed. “For now, we have not observed a direct impact on deep-sea ecosystems. However, we remain very concerned with the potential consequences it could have on the fragile marine life – on sea horses for example or on all the benthic species, like lichen or algae.” Echoing these words, the OSPAR Commission – in charge of implementing the current legal instrument guiding international cooperation on the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic – has precisely insisted in its recommendations on the potential impact of sand dredging in marine environment. “All dredged materials have a significant physical impact at the point of disposal. This impact includes covering of the seabed and local increases in suspended solids levels. (…) Biological consequences of these physical impacts include smothering of benthic organisms in the dumping area.”

Yet, the conservationist believes in a solution that would enable Cambodia to continue benefiting from sand extraction while protecting nature. “Every company involved in the extractive industry or likely to have an impact on environment should contribute a sum of money – some kind of tax – as compensation. Thanks to this tax, the government could fund marine conservation projects and help Cambodian people,” he argues. Utopian? Possibly, but at least, he is not lulled by the sandmen operating in Cambodia.

Taken from the original article.

Gravel beaches trapping oil from 1989 Exxon spill

Gravel beaches trapping oil from 1989 Exxon spill

By Mary Pemberton

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – An engineering professor has figured out why oil remains trapped along miles of gravel beaches more than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster in Prince William Sound.

An estimated 20,000 gallons of crude remain in Prince William Sound, even though oil remaining after the nearly 11-million-gallon spill had been expected to biodegrade and wash away within a few years.

The problem: The gravelly beaches of Prince William Sound are trapping the oil between two layers of rock, with larger rocks on top and finer gravel underneath, according to Michel C. Boufadel, chairman of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Temple University. His study appeared Sunday in Nature Geoscience’s online publication and will be published in the journal later.

Boufadel found that water, which could have broken up and dissipated the oil, moved through the lower level of gravel up to 1,000 times slower than the top level.

Once the oil entered the lower level, conditions were right to keep it there, he said. Tidal forces worked to compact the finer-grained gravel even more, creating a nearly oxygen-free environment with low nutrient levels that slowed the ability of the oil to biodegrade.

“The oil could be maybe one foot below the beach surface and in contact with sea water with a lot of oxygen, but the oxygen doesn’t get to it,” Boufadel said.

He found that the upper layer of beach is so permeable that the water table falls within it as fast as the tide. However, the permeability of the lower level is so low that the water table does not drop much within it, he said.

Boufadel said the study points out the susceptibility of beaches worldwide to long-term oil contamination, especially at higher latitudes where beaches tend to be gravel or a mixture of sand and gravel.

“As global warming is melting the ice cover and exposing the Arctic to oil exploitation and shipping through sea routes such as the Northwest Passage, the risk of oil spills on gravel beaches in high-latitude regions will be increased,” the study says.

Boufadel and his team dug about 70 pits between 3-feet and 5-feet deep on six beaches during summers from 2007 to 2009. His report focuses on data collected on Eleanor Island, about 15 miles away from Bligh Reef where the Exxon Valdez grounded on March 24, 1989.

Peter Hagen, program manager for Exxon studies for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Boufadel’s study is a continuation of previous work that began in 2001 when 9,000 pits were dug around the sound, confirming the presence of oil.

While the remaining oil likely remains somewhat locked up in the beaches, the spill’s lingering effects are ongoing, Hagen said. Sea otters, sea ducks and some sea birds are producing an enzyme showing exposure to oil.

Boufadel’s study was funded by a $1.2 million, three-year grant from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. The council was formed after the environmental disaster to oversee restoration of the sound.

Boufadel doesn’t know how long it might take for the remaining oil to finally disappear but predicted it will take a long time.

“It will be a slow process because the oil is relatively sheltered from water motion,” he said.

Original Article

The Negative Impacts Of Groins

groin-shadow
Groynes (or, groin) and shadow. Photo source: ©© Andrew Tijou

By Coastal Care;

North Carolina law (G.S 113A-115.1) prohibits the use of groins – steel, rock or wood walls built perpendicular to the beach in order to trap shifting sand – and other permanent erosion control structures along ocean shorelines. This ban is based on: 1) extensive studies and technical data documenting the detrimental impacts of erosion control structures and 2) 150 years of documentation of the negative impacts of shoreline stabilization on the barrier islands in New Jersey.

The negative impact of groins on downdrift shorelines is well understood. When a groin works as intended, sand moving along the beach in the so-called downdrift direction is trapped on the updrift side of the groin, causing a sand deficit and increasing erosion rates on the downdrift side. This well-documented and unquestioned impact is widely cited in the engineering and geologic literature.

The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Engineering Manual describes groins as: “…probably the most misused and improperly designed of all coastal structures…Over the course of some time interval, accretion causes a positive increase in beach width updrift of the groin. Conservation of sand mass therefore produces erosion and a decrease in beach width on the downdrift side of the groin” (USACE, 2002). In his textbook (used by most coastal engineering programs to introduce beach processes) Paul Komar, professor emeritus in the College of Oceanographic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, states, “Groins and jetties have the same effect in damming the longshore sediment transport, the shoreline builds out on the updrift side and erodes in the downdrift direction” (Komar, 1998). There is no debate. Groins cause downdrift erosion.
While the extent, degree and duration of negative impacts can not always be accurately predicted, a groin placed at the terminus of a barrier island, near an inlet, interrupts the natural sand bypass system. This deprives the ebb and flood tide deltas of sand and can cause substantial negative impacts to adjacent Islands. In a complex coastal system, the precise location, onset and scale of these negative impacts are very difficult to pinpoint. As with all erosion control structures, it may take years for groin impacts to become apparent. This is why promises to monitor such projects ring hollow, and why disputes over groin impacts often end up in court where judges, rather than scientific experts, end up making critical coastal management decisions.
Using groins in conjunction with beach nourishment projects is of dubious value as well. When big storms occur, groins direct strong currents that carry large amounts of sand seaward, in an offshore direction parallel to the groins. After Hurricane Hugo, for example, sidescan sonar studies showed gullies excavated on the continental shelf adjacent to each of the groins on Pawleys Island in South Carolina. Because much sand loss is offshore during storms, groins will have little impact on holding sand in place (and may even accelerate loss).

The implication by those who are promoting the law to allow the use of groins on North Carolina ocean and inlet shorelines is that this is experimental and that if the groins don’t work they will be removed or altered. There is nothing experimental about groins. It is clear that on a shoreline where sand is transported laterally, groins will always cause erosion. The only questions are where and when will this erosion occur. Experience on many other American shorelines indicates that removal of a groin, once it is put in place, is a rare event no matter what promises are made beforehand.

The localized and temporary updrift benefits afforded by groins rarely, if ever, justify the downdrift damage caused by increased erosion – regardless of whether it is to developed or undeveloped shorelines, inlets and islands. We urge you to maintain the State of North Carolina’s high standards for coastal management by preventing any change to the current ban on coastal hard structures. Doing so is the surest way to protect our state’s beaches for future generations.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

  1. Rob Young, PhD, P.G., Professor of Geosciences, Western Carolina University
  2. Orrin Pilkey, PhD, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Geology, Duke University
  3. Duncan Heron, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Geology, Duke University
  4. Stan Riggs, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Geology, East Carolina University
  5. David Mallinson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Marine Geology, East Carolina University
  6. David Bush, PhD, P.G., Professor of Modern Sedimentology, University of West Georgia
  7. Len Pietrafesa, PhD, Director of External Affairs for the College of Physical and
  8. Mathematical Sciences, North Carolina State University
  9. Art Trembanis, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Geology, University of Delaware Michael Fenster, PhD, Director of Environmental Studies, Randolph-Macon College
  10. James F. Fox, PhD, Director of Operations, National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center, UNC Asheville
  11. Charles Fletcher, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Geology, University of Hawaii
  12. Paul T Gayes, PhD, Director, Center for Marine and Wetlands Studies,
  13. Coastal Carolina University
  14. Andrew Coburn, Research/Graduate Faculty & Associate Director,
  15. Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, Western Carolina University
  16. David Levinson, Physical Scientist, Climate Monitoring
  17. Dorothea Ames, P.G., Assistant Scientist, East Carolina University
  18. Laura J. Moore, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Geology, Oberlin College
  19. Nicholas Coch, PhD, Professor of Earth & Earth Science, Queens College, CUNY
  20. H. Allen Curran, PhD, Kenan Professor of Geology, Smith College
  21. Jon C Boothroyd, PhD, Professor of Quaternary Geology, University of Rhode Island
  22. Joe Kelley, Chair, PhD, Dept of Earth Sciences, University of Maine @ Orono
  23. Hal Wanless, PhD, Chair, Department of Geology, University of Miami
  24. Andrew Cooper, PhD, Professor of Coastal Studies, University of Ulster
  25. Donald Barber, PhD, Director of Environmental Studies, Bryn Mawr College
  26. Dr Michael Katuna, PhD, Professor of Geology, College of Charleston

Claims Mining is Destroying Famous Sand Dunes

By Justin Vallejo

The State Government is investigating claims the once-mighty dunes, made famous by Mad Max III, mined since 1968, are being secretly plundered at far greater depths than allowed to help provide a million tonnes of sand a year – about 50 per cent of the NSW construction industry’s supply of building sand.

Aerial photographs taken by The Daily Telegraph show the full extent of destruction caused by 40 years of mining, with 30m-high dunes gouged into deep stagnant pools, ponds and man-made lakes.

Environmental groups and conservationists now fear a major storm event, combined with sustained mining and rising sea levels, would overwhelm the remaining natural barrier between the Pacific Ocean and Botany Bay – North Cronulla Beach. It is another blow to the 2000 residents of the city’s industrial dumping ground where families live alongside an oil refinery and soon a desalination plant.

The NSW Planning Department held a meeting with Sutherland Shire Council and representatives from Besmaw, the company mining the sand, over allegations they are mining deeper, wider and more sand than allowed.

It has been alleged the last miner remaining at the site, a subsidiary of the Holt Group, is digging deeper than the limit of 12m below sea level and is going as far down as the rock bed – about 20m.

It has also been alleged the resulting holes are being refilled with landfill and construction waste.

Respected environmental campaigner Bob Walshe, from the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, said it was inevitable the sea would one day break through the peninsula.

He said the State Government would not act because the Holt Group sells the sand at a little under market price to the ailing construction industry.

"The sand that has been taken away has destroyed the natural barrier that created the Kurnell Peninsula," he added.

Nature Conservation Council of NSW executive director Cate Faehrmann said: "It’s at that time now that any further mining and industry will destroy it forever."

The Holt Group did not return The Daily Telegraph’s calls.

Taken from the original article.

The mission of the Santa Aguila Foundation is to raise awareness of and mobilize people against the ongoing decimation of coastlines around the world.

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