NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

April 5, 2013

'Beach mining' moving forward

(Continued)

All mining activity would be paid by homeowners, members of the Foundation say.

The pilot program would involve mining of a 400 to 500-foot stretch of beach south of the island groin.

Sarkady said that the results would be studied by local and state officials, and analysis would continue from there.

Joe Story, chairman of the Newbury Board of Selectmen, said, “This idea isn’t new, and it would be another tool in the bag if we could do this mining.

“It was encouraging that the DEP invited us in to talk, and we told them that we are hoping for a decision very quickly.”

North Shore residents in many coastal communities are seeking new strategies to counter erosion following a winter where four storms created an unusual amount of erosion — and subsequent damage of homes. But erosion is not the only phenomenon occurring on the coast. Aerial photos show that great masses of sand have been moving off Plum Island this winter, creating new sandbars and larger beaches in some areas.

David Vine, a principal with GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., who worked on the proposal to the DEP, said, “The goal of the project is to restore the dune. We won’t be lowering the beach level.”

The engineer, who lives in Newburyport, said that the size of a depression would not be big enough to bury a battleship, as has been suggested.

But heavy equipment will be involved.

Authors of the proposal say that bulldozers and bucket loaders would be employed to gather sand at low tide, and relocate it to the dunes. The number of machines that would be required has not been finalized.

“Our meeting was a step forward, and officials of the DEP heard from us that we’d like a decision as soon as possible.” said state Sen. Bruce Tarr, R-Gloucester, who is co-chair of the Merrimack River Beach Alliance.

“We had a good representation, and David Vine and (Northeastern) Professor Peter Rosen did a good job in providing scientific information to support the mining proposal.”

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