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Beachgoers worried about debris at Jupiter beach

Seawall reconstruction project unearths old concrete debris
Posted at 10:19 PM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 04:04:53-04

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Construction debris on the beach in Jupiter is getting a lot of attention.

Over the weekend, a viewer sent WPTV pictures of concrete chunks and large debris washing into the ocean or strewn around the beach. Beachgoers said they're worried it could create a hazard on the beach.

It's actually part of an ongoing construction project at the Jupiter Reef Club and Resort.

The club is working on more than $2 million seawall reconstruction project and came across more than they expected around the seawall.

The club says construction crews found old concrete, metal, and other debris buried beneath the wall that was most likely there for decades. This site was built in the 1930s and contained a couple of motels at one point in its history.

Crews are cleaning up the debris but the waves have knocked some pieces around and in the path of people spending time on the beach.

Jeff Miller has been coming to a particular spot on the beach near the club for three years now.

"It's nice, secluded private," he said.

But lately, he’s worried about his dog, Benny, getting hurt. The golden Labrador loves to run through the sand and play fetch in the waves.

“We were just seeing huge huge boulders everywhere," he said. “I just kept thinking, you know someone is going to get hit by a boulder at some point. There are families with kids and dogs around here.”

Viewers sent in several pictures, showing piles of concrete debris. Some complaints said they saw metal pieces and what looked like rebar inside the concrete.

Miller said one piece was too heavy to move.

“It was as big as [Benny], it was huge," he said.

With limited space on the beach, sometimes the debris is placed in piles on the beach before it’s eventually removed. It’s possible smaller pieces of debris escaped the piles.

The debris attracted the attention of the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit focusing on healthy beaches across Florida. They said at least three of their members issued complaints in the last two months, so the organization sent pictures and statements to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission about the issue.

“They found it to be sufficient enough to open an investigation to ensure that everyone is in compliance to construction removal processes," said Marilu Flores, the regional coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation.

“We just wanted to make sure that everyone stays safe on our beaches,” added Flores. “The debris also poses a problem for the sea turtles coming up to nest.”

A club spokesperson stressed it wasn’t intentionally dumped and clean up will continue as the seawall reconstruction work moves forward. Completion is expected by the end of June.

"We don’t believe that any of it was done in ill intent," said Flores. "It’s very costly to remove these materials and the laws are constantly changing."

There are signs in place warning visitors of exposed metal and construction work along the beach path, just north of beach access 51. Use caution in this area until construction is completed.