For Immediate Release 

Surfrider Foundation Supports Coastal Scientists’ Response To DEP On Beach Sand Rules

Tallahassee (July 20, 2011) — The Surfrider Foundation applauds coastal scientists who harshly responded to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recent action to suspend key environmental and health protections when rebuilding eroded beaches with dredged materials.  A sign-on letter submitted to the agency today, highlights scientific inaccuracies and DEP’s complete lack of understanding for Florida’s ecosystems. 

Without any rulemaking, Jeff Littlejohn, the new DEP Deputy Secretary for Regulatory programs decided to issue a reinterpretation for how the agency would apply rules governing beach projects.  The memo suggests that beach work should be presumptively approved regardless of consequences.

The memo directs DEP permit staff to –

  • Not consider listed “contaminants” used in borrow material when deciding whether or not to allow the project to go forward, unless they would cause “cementation” of the beach;
  • Avoid requesting additional information about projects or imposing conditions.  Under the memo, it is uncertain how DEP will prevent prohibited toxic material, construction debris or other foreign matter from being deposited onto artificially reinforced beaches; and
  • Suspend reviews on planting plans, which determine “a project’s potential to impact the beach and dune system.”

“We urge FDEP to immediately reconsider these changes and to work with the scientific community to develop adequate standards for testing borrow material to ensure that native beach quality sand is used and to ensure that Florida’s beaches remain the important economic resource that they are,” says Rob Young, Director, Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.  “The revised interpretation is likely to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.”

This major lack of protection occurs as millions of dollars from British Petroleum are being released to finance a large number of environmental and natural resource restoration and recovery projects from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

Michael Sturdivant, Emerald Coast Chapter Chairman asserts,  “The Florida DEP and coastal counties attempt to use damage assessment funds actually further damages our beaches with poorly regulated dredging projects.   Oil Pollution Act (OPA) funds are meant for meaningful ecological restoration such as to sea grass beds, reefs, and bird habitat.  The oil disaster had no significant impact on erosion.  This dangerous combination of less regulation and using funds in this manner not only attempts to cover up the remaining oil on our beaches but will in fact introduce countless more contaminants from the sea floor, increasing our environmental damage.”

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Coastal Scientist Sign-On Letter

Read the DEP directive

View Gov. Scott comments on beach restoration

Look at the state Rules and Procedures for Coastal Construction Permits

See BP accelerated 2011 restoration payment pledge

Recent Media Coverage

Concern over contaminated sand: MyFoxTAMPABAY.com