Saturday, April 15, 2017
Shell News in Panama City Beach FL
Seashells to head to landfill
Friday Posted Apr 14, 2017
For the beach nourishment project, the workers are collecting sand from offshore and the piling it onto the beach to add more sandy area for beach goers. As part of the collection process, the machinery scoops up tons of shells, which are sifted out of the sand by a sorter.
By KATIE LANDECK
News Herald Reporter
PANAMA CITY — Dump trucks filled with shells are being sent to the landfill as part of the beach nourishment project in Panama City Beach.
“It’s a crying shame,” said Christine Stevens, who had gone to the beach last week to look for shells.
“There’s a huge pile of shells, like a house, and they said it was going to a landfill.”
For the beach nourishment project, the workers are collecting sand from offshore and then piling it onto the beach to add more sandy area for beachgoers. As part of the collection process, the machinery scoops up shells, which are sifted out of the sand by a sorter.
The shells are then carted off to a landfill to the dismay of shellers.
“There are several issues at play here,” Lisa Armbruster, a coastal engineer working as a consultant on the project, wrote in an email. “To begin with, the piles of shell are sharp, and some of what is mixed in would start to smell bad very quickly. Due to liability issues, neither the project contractor nor Bay County can have people sifting through them.”
The process often breaks the larger shells, according to Armbruster, who said she doubted they would make for good collecting.
“The larger ones everyone sees coming out the sorter have been at least somewhat broken up by the pump-out process, or would otherwise be broken as the bulldozers push the new sand into place if they hadn’t been sorted out,” Armbruster wrote.
Even so, seeing the shells sent to the landfill has aggravated some people, including snowbird Diane LaMay, who comes from Michigan every year.
“In 2011 when they renourished the beach, the shells were in the sand and they bulldozed them back and forth and leveled the beach nice and smooth,” she wrote, attaching a photo of shells she had collected. “I want the shells back in with the sand and buried by the bulldozers with my bed tax money.” LaMay said in her experience the shells were not too jagged or broken, and many of her friends who are “shellers” have been trying to smuggle shells out of the pile.
While the large shells aren’t making it onto the beach, many smaller shells — about 3 inches or less — are making it past the sorter and can be gathered up by beachcombers.
The work, which is being done by contractor Weeks Marine, currently is taking place by the County Pier and by Pinnacle Port. After that is done, the work will move on to the City Pier segment and a segment by Treasure Island.
The $14.1 million project is expect to wrap up by early May, ahead of turtle nesting season.