Monterey Bay. CEMEX extracted about 200,000 yds3 of sand from this back beach pond every year. Photograph courtesy of: © Gary Griggs
“The portions of southern Monterey Bay shoreline have the highest erosion rates in the state. None of the documents reviewed for this report can offer any explanation for these anomalously high erosion rates beyond the sand extraction from the littoral zone at the Lapis Mine. The overwhelming evidence leads me to conclude that continued sand mining activities have led to a substantial sand deficit in southern Monterey Bay. This sand deficit is driving these anomalously high rates of coastal erosion. In order to grapple with the serious erosion problems in southern Monterey Bay, I recommend that the City of Marina pursue options to stop beach sand mining activities at the Lapis facility…” — Robert S. Young, PhD, PG,
Six years ago, nonprofit environmental advocacy organization San Francisco Baykeeper sued sand-mining firm Hanson Marine Operations and the State Lands Commission to stop sand mining in the Bay. However, in November, an appeals court judge sided with the State Lands Commission and the sand mining company.
The State Lands Commission owns the sand in the public trust and approves or rejects requests to sand-mine.Hoping to persuade the Commission and courts to stop the mining, the Baykeeper cited studies by its own researchers and others that show that sand at the bottom of the Bay drifts to nearby Ocean Beach.
An attorney for Hanson Marine Operations, Christian Marsh, said, “There is nothing in those studies that says that there is a direct causal link between sediment removal in the bay and erosion at Ocean Beach, which is occurring for a whole multitude of factors.”
The justices ruled the sand mining increase is allowed. It’s a setback for the San Francisco Baykeeper.
“It’s 1.5 million cubic yards of sand, which doesn’t mean much to many people. But that means it’s 4 times the amount of sand that will actually enter San Francisco Bay from upstream forces,” said SF Baykeeper’s attorney Erica Maharg…
Sand Mining in SF Bay Dealt Blow by State Appeals Court, SF Examiner (11-18-2015)
A California appeals court has ruled that sand in the San Francisco Bay must be considered a public trust resource, potentially challenging the practice of mining for sand in the Bay that’s in turn used in construction projects. Wednesday’s ruling in the lawsuit between San Francisco Baykeeper and the California State Lands Commission in the California 1st District Court of Appeal is considered a major victory by environmental advocates who have argued sand mining contributes to erosion at Ocean Beach and threatens the Bay’s ecosystem.
BCDC Approves Sand Mining Permit in San Francisco Bay, Mercury News (04-23-2015)
San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) unanimously approved a 10-year mining permit for sand removal from San Francisco Bay, and from two other areas near Suisun. The amount of sand the permit requests is 15 times greater than the annual amount of sand that comes into the bay from the delta…
San Francisco Bay Sand Mining Alarms Conservationists, San Francisco Gate (12-16-2012)
Dredge mining of shoals near Angel and Alcatraz islands and throughout Suisun Bay is robbing the bay of sand that keeps San Francisco’s Ocean Beach from eroding, according to new research by the U.S. Geological Survey…
How to Steal a Beach, Atlas Obscura (07-18-2016)
In Northern California’s Monterey Bay, a peculiar thing happens every time there’s a storm. The California Coastal Commission says that a mining operation has been illegally taking precious sand for years…
Controversial beachfront sand mining operation along Monterey Bay to close; The Mercury News (06-27-2017)
The last coastal sand mine in the United States, a facility on Monterey Bay that scientists say has caused significant erosion of beaches in the area, will close in three years under a settlement agreement announced Tuesday with California officials…
An Evaluation of the Ongoing Impacts of Sand Mining at the CEMEX Lapis Sand Plant in Marina, California on the Southern Monterey Bay Shoreline; By Robert S. Young, PhD; (05-29-2017)
The City of Marina commissioned this report to assist in its management and decision‐making for coastal property and resources within the City’s jurisdiction. This report provides a review and synthesis of available documentary information and scientific literature addressing the impact of current sand mining activities within southern Monterey Bay…
Ignoring state threats, firm keeps sucking sand from Monterey Bay, San Francisco Chronicle (03-03-2017)
The Lapis Sand Plant, in operation since 1906, is the nation’s last coastal sand mine. The California Coastal Commission has threatened to close the plant, but the company refuses to relinquish its claim to the uniquely coarse amber-colored Monterey sand, which it calls “Lapis Lustre.” But Cemex is the world’s second largest building materials company, and any attempt to kick it out is likely to immerse the state in years of expensive litigation.
The Conservation Crisis No One Is Talking About, By John R. Platt, TakePart (09-21-2016)
Beaches around the world are disappearing. No, the cause isn’t sea-level rise, at least not this time. It’s a little-known but enormous industry called sand mining, which every year sucks up billions of tons of sand from beaches, ocean floors, and rivers to make everything from concrete to microchips to toothpaste…
Concrete, or Beaches? World’s Sand Running Out As Global Construction Booms; The Ecologist (05-09-2017)
A crucial component of concrete, sand is vital to the global construction industry…
Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks: A UNEP report (GEA-March 2014)
Despite the colossal quantities of sand and gravel being used, our increasing dependence on them and the significant impact that their extraction has on the environment, this issue has been mostly ignored by policy makers and remains largely unknown by the general public.
In March 2014 The United Nations released its first Report about Sand Mining: “Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks.”
“Sand Wars” film documentary by Denis Delestrac – first broadcasted on the european Arte Channel, May 28th, 2013 in its french version: “Le Sable: enquête sur une disparition”, where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013 – expressly inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish this 2014-Global Environmental Alert.