South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

SCELP in the Press

Federal judge orders removal of Harbor Island’s ocean barriers
August 14th, 2017

By Maggie Angst

After years of controversy, a federal judge has issued an order for the immediate removal of the ocean barriers on Harbor Island and Isle of Palms.

The experimental erosion-control devices, called a Wave Dissipation System, were installed in 2015 to slow waves and build up sand behind the walls of heavy-duty pipe.

Despite a ban on seawalls and other “hard erosion control devices” under state law, the walls were authorized by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control on certain beaches within Isle of Palms and Harbor Island for a one-year study of effectiveness by the Citadel.

Since the installation of the walls, a handful of South Carolina environmental groups have argued that they interfere with the nesting activities of sea turtles and therefore are a violation of the Endangered Species Act.

In July 2016, DHEC ordered that the system be removed in its entirety because of their effect on nesting sea turtles. Yet, the walls were never taken down.

So in December 2016, the S.C. Environmental Law Project, which is representing the S.C. Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit against DHEC, alleging that the experimental walls were keeping rare sea turtles from reaching nesting sites.

“That’s why we felt it was important to file a case in federal court, because we’re now in our third nesting season, and it was clear we weren’t getting any quick release from DHEC,” said Amelia Thompson, Staff Attorney for the S.C. Environmental Law Project. “(The recent decision) is not just another order because the federal court order differs from the agency decisions that we’ve seen previously.”

In January 2017, DHEC filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. But in July, the S.C. Environmental Law Project filed a motion for preliminary injunction requiring the immediate removal of all the walls during the sea turtle nesting seasons while the case was pending.

On Monday, a federal judge from the U.S. District Court in Charleston denied DHEC’s motion to dismiss the case and granted the motion for a preliminary injunction.

“This is great news for us,” Thompson said. “It’s certainly a precedence-setting opinion that gets to the heart of why we can’t obstruct sea turtle nesting and that’s just the kind of thing the Endangered Species Act is designed to protect against.”

During the last three nesting seasons, at least 10 female sea turtles have crawled onto the beaches of Harbor Island and Isle of Palms to lay eggs but were blocked and forced to return to the ocean due to the walls, according to the S.C. Environmental Law Project.

At least two wall-induced false crawls have been reported in 2017, including one that occurred in June on Harbor Island, according to the environmental group.

Earlier this year, DHEC’s Ocean and Coastal Resource Management staff concluded that the seawalls failed on every relevant metric.

“DHEC-OCRM finds that the (wave dissipation system) has not been successful in addressing an erosional issue, and results in additional impacts to the beach,” their recommendation to the DHEC board stated.

But in June, despite the staff recommendation and after a public comment period, the DHEC board decided the walls should remain in place.

Matt Hamrick, attorney for SI Systems LLC., which is owned by the inventor of the Wave Dissipation System, told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette last month that he disagreed that the walls caused any harm.

“The engineering experts that have evaluated the performance of the WDS, including the independent engineer hired by DHEC at great taxpayer expense, have concluded that the WDS has been successful at addressing erosion and causes no harm,” Hamrick wrote in an email.

As for how long it will take for the walls to be removed, Thompson said she hopes that they come down “pretty quickly.”

“The walls are designed to be taken down within 72 hours, that’s part of the reason they’ve been touted as a good thing because they’re supposed to be taken down relatively easy, so that’s our hope,” she said.

Source (external link)

Archives

2017
Court orders removal of seawalls to protect rare turtles
Posted: Aug 14, 2017
Isle of Palms seawalls must come down because of turtle nesting, judge rules
Posted: Aug 14, 2017
As Harbor Island seawalls deteriorate, efforts to protect sea turtles intensify
Posted: Jul 31, 2017
Enviromental groups ask court to bring down controversial seawalls on Isle of Palms
Posted: Jul 31, 2017
Massive river withdrawals allowed in South Carolina, Supreme Court rules
Posted: Jul 19, 2017
SC Supreme Court sides with mega-farms in dispute over siphoning water from rivers
Posted: Jul 19, 2017
Thirsty mega-farms siphon S.C.’s rivers as state watches
Posted: Apr 26, 2017
Environment: Appeals Court says church must preserve wetland
Posted: Mar 23, 2017
Listen to science about shoreline protection
Posted: Mar 16, 2017
DHEC board: Experimental sea walls can stay up another year
Posted: Mar 13, 2017
Upstate Forever appeals gas pipeline approval
Posted: Mar 10, 2017
DHEC board spurns staff, allows use of controversial seawalls
Posted: Mar 9, 2017
South Carolina regulators allow temporary sea walls to remain on Isle of Palms beaches
Posted: Mar 9, 2017
Upstate Forever appeals natural gas pipeline decision
Posted: Mar 8, 2017
Horry County gives OK to begin final stage of International Drive construction
Posted: Mar 7, 2017
S.C. Congressman introduces 'Loser Pays' bill targeting Clean Water Act lawsuits
Posted: Mar 6, 2017
'Loser Pays' bill introduced, addresses lawsuits against infrastructure projects
Posted: Feb 23, 2017
SC bill would limit automatic stays, environmental groups not happy
Posted: Feb 9, 2017
Dominion pipeline wins approval
Posted: Feb 3, 2017
Laurens Co. seeks to block eminent domain for Upstate pipeline construction
Posted: Jan 24, 2017
Appeals court: International Drive construction can continue
Posted: Jan 20, 2017
Charleston cruise ship terminal fight back on appeals court docket
Posted: Jan 16, 2017
Natural gas pipeline causes stink with Upstate environmental groups
Posted: Jan 3, 2017
Pipeline Battle Is Heating Up
Posted: Jan 2, 2017
Proposed pipeline sparks outrage
Posted: Jan 1, 2017
2016
Horry County delays bidding process for International Drive after court order
Posted: Dec 22, 2016
Court order halts work on International Drive, county stops soliciting bids
Posted: Dec 21, 2016
Court order forces Horry County to stop International Drive construction yet again
Posted: Dec 20, 2016
Will International Drive be road to nowhere? This court will decide.
Posted: Dec 12, 2016
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/dhec-says-no-to-wild-dunes-sea-walls-as-groups/article_179efaa8-bbdf-11e6-bf8b-d7b4a54d79dc.html
Posted: Dec 12, 2016
DHEC says no to Wild Dunes sea walls as groups sue to bring them down
Posted: Dec 10, 2016
Conservationists appeal judge's decision in International Drive case
Posted: Dec 9, 2016
Conservation groups sue over experimental seawalls along parts of eroding SC coast
Posted: Dec 7, 2016
A WALK ON THE 'WILD SIDE' - Fundraiser benefits South Carolina Environmental Law Project
Posted: Nov 10, 2016
Michael Corley To Lead Environmental Law Project’s Expansion
Posted: Oct 28, 2016
Environment: Libel suit prompted by road project goes to federal court
Posted: Oct 20, 2016
SCELP opens Greenville office to fight environmental harm
Posted: Oct 19, 2016
International Drive supporter sued by environmental lawyer
Posted: Sep 23, 2016
Environmental group files appeal in International Drive project
Posted: Aug 24, 2016
Sandbag rules changed Bonding now required
Posted: Aug 17, 2016
Film highlights dangers of man-made ocean noise
Posted: Aug 17, 2016
Environment: Drilling foes look to the future after winning award
Posted: Jul 28, 2016
Environmentalist group files motion that could delay International Drive project
Posted: Jul 15, 2016
“Erosion stops” removal ordered; DHEC considers them harmful to sea turtles
Posted: Jul 13, 2016
Court Approves Road through Prime Bear Habitat Along the Coast
Posted: Jul 8, 2016
Turtle-blocking seawall coming down
Posted: Jul 7, 2016
Community wants Palmetto Railways to up mitigation plans
Posted: Jun 29, 2016
Erosion control sea walls spur complaints from sea turtle nesting monitors
Posted: Jun 28, 2016
Sea turtles suffer as seawalls go up, legal notice says
Posted: Jun 17, 2016
Access eroding to embattled Kiawah spit, study says
Posted: May 29, 2016
Speakers show support for proposed cargo rail yard, with some caveats
Posted: May 24, 2016
Obscure Pappy’s Island the future of Cape Romain refuge
Posted: Apr 24, 2016
No oil drilling, no testing offshore S.C.
Posted: Apr 3, 2016
Offshore seismic testing push continues despite oil drilling ban
Posted: Mar 29, 2016
Cape Romain Refuge Island, ecological treasure, saved from development
Posted: Mar 29, 2016
Capt. Sam’s Spit road gets court go-ahead; conservation groups plan to appeal
Posted: Mar 23, 2016
International Drive hearings conclude, but final outcome won’t come quickly
Posted: Mar 16, 2016
Legislator pressured DNR to approve road without protections for black bears, attorney says
Posted: Feb 18, 2016
Coastal Bear Dispute Reaches Columbia Courtroom
Posted: Feb 16, 2016
Millions more recommended to protect Lake Marion from toxic waste dump
Posted: Jan 11, 2016
2015
Court ruling uncertain on Capt. Sam’s Spit wall
Posted: Dec 5, 2015
Opinion: Don’t sacrifice coast for developers
Posted: Dec 3, 2015
Lawmakers OK change to help development on Kiawah Island
Posted: Dec 2, 2015
Kiawah Island project wins support from lawmakers
Posted: Dec 1, 2015
Battle over Captain Sam’s Spit grows as coastline shrinks
Posted: Nov 19, 2015
Capt. Sam’s Spit wall given go ahead
Posted: Nov 9, 2015
South Carolina Flooding: Real Estate Boom At Risk As Threats From Climate Change Intensify
Posted: Oct 6, 2015
Court blasts DHEC for failures at nuclear waste dump
Posted: Aug 19, 2015
Bears to get no help crossing this SC coastal road
Posted: Aug 1, 2015
Hotly contested seawall in upscale community sails toward reality near Myrtle Beach
Posted: Jul 27, 2015
Opinion: International Drive in Carolina Forest held up when Horry County reneged on its promise
Posted: Jul 22, 2015
Opinion: Tom Rice ill-informed about International Drive in Carolina Forest
Posted: Jul 20, 2015
Conservation, wildlife request on International Drive could delay Horry County road project even longer
Posted: Jul 13, 2015
Beaufort continues battle against offshore seismic testing for oil
Posted: Jul 8, 2015
Opinion: Lack of enforcement puts SC's valuable natural resources at risk
Posted: Jul 7, 2015
DHEC board lets seismic testing for oil stand
Posted: Jun 11, 2015
Kiawah developers win new permit for Captain Sam’s Spit
Posted: May 26, 2015
Marine life threatened by search for oil and gas, legal appeal says
Posted: May 18, 2015
Landfill lawsuit pits waste against wetlands
Posted: Apr 20, 2015
Expansion of towering mega dump near acclaimed nature preserve sparks dispute
Posted: Apr 17, 2015
USC School of Law announces 2015 Compleat Lawyer Award recipients
Posted: Apr 4, 2015
The new battle for Capt. Sam’s Spit; beach setback rule contested
Posted: Mar 25, 2015
S.C. lawmakers struggle to stop seaward push
Posted: Mar 19, 2015
Opinion: Don’t limit a citizen’s ability to challenge government
Posted: Mar 17, 2015
Environment: Judge rules for church in wetlands permit appeal
Posted: Feb 27, 2015
Kiawah developers seek help from Legislature to build on barrier island
Posted: Jan 29, 2015
Judge denies landowners’ motion to stop withdrawals in Edisto River ‘water war’
Posted: Jan 15, 2015
Charleston Court will hear case on S.C. water laws, draws interest of Wagener residents
Posted: Jan 14, 2015
2014
Court rules against disputed Kiawah beach project
Posted: Dec 11, 2014
Kiawah developer denied permits for Capt. Sams Spit sea walls
Posted: Dec 10, 2014
SC attorney general fights federal environmental rules
Posted: Oct 16, 2014
Formal appeal is filed in Charleston cruise ship terminal dispute
Posted: Oct 15, 2014
Lab Test Indicates Jellyfish Plant Discharge is Harmful, Company Disagrees
Posted: Sep 7, 2014
South Carolina Ports again seek cruise terminal permit
Posted: Aug 16, 2014
Court rules against Barnwell nuclear waste dump
Posted: Jul 31, 2014
SC Senate tacks on seawall exemption to resolution
Posted: May 20, 2014
SCELP Board Member John Mark Dean's Letter to the Editor: Seawalls steal from the many to protect the few
Posted: May 14, 2014
SC beach dispute heats up
Posted: May 13, 2014
SC seawall ban crumbling as landowners seek help
Posted: May 8, 2014
Debordieu scores win
Posted: May 8, 2014
SC seawalls, beach projects score victory
Posted: May 8, 2014
SC Supreme Court hears arguments in York County landfill suit
Posted: May 6, 2014
Senators side with gated Debordieu community in debate over public beach
Posted: Apr 29, 2014
SC has not yet reapplied for federal cruise permit
Posted: Apr 28, 2014
Group appeals judge's ruling over Charleston cruise terminal
Posted: Apr 22, 2014
DHEC holds community meeting to discuss jellyballs
Posted: Apr 22, 2014
Proposed industrial park in Bucksport pits environmentalists against developers, neighbor against neighbor
Posted: Apr 14, 2014
Resort’s troubles threaten to erode SC beach law
Posted: Mar 28, 2014
Waccamaw River: Industrial park raises debate over jobs and environment By Jason Lesley
Posted: Mar 13, 2014
SCELP won a critical VICTORY in the SC Supreme Court
Posted: Mar 12, 2014
Business leaders, environmentalists and residents debate marine industrial park at hearing
Posted: Mar 11, 2014
Environmentalists want Bucksport industrial park put on hold, proponents say it’s not necessary
Posted: Mar 10, 2014
Environmentalists raise concerns, proponents tout benefits of Bucksport Marina Industrial Park
Posted: Feb 18, 2014
Saving the Angel Oak
Posted: Feb 17, 2014
Tom Rice legislation could give gated Inlet Harbour community access to federal funds
Posted: Feb 17, 2014
Barnwell nuclear waste dump: Are open pits a threat?
Posted: Feb 6, 2014
SCELP argues before Court of Appeals for more containment at Barnwell nuclear site
Posted: Feb 5, 2014
Leaks at Barnwell Nuclear Dump Focus of Court Hearing
Posted: Feb 3, 2014
Court to hear Barnwell waste disposal appeal
Posted: Jan 23, 2014
Pawleys Island: State tries to avoid county default on groin permit
Posted: Jan 13, 2014
Funds drying up to check for toxic leaks near Lake Marion
Posted: Jan 8, 2014
4 years on, Charleston cruise debate lingers
Posted: Jan 6, 2014
2013
DHEC Holds Public Hearing
Posted: Nov 19, 2013
COMPANY TO YOUR STATE
Posted: Nov 19, 2013
Pawleys Island: County conspicuous in absence from court in groin appeal
Posted: Nov 15, 2013
Cruise terminal opponents want SC permit tossed
Posted: Nov 14, 2013
Environmentalists take a walk on the 'Wild Side' for law project fundraiser
Posted: Nov 10, 2013
Capt. Sam's Spit development could imperil little-regarded marsh turtle on Kiawah Island Bo Petersen
Posted: Oct 7, 2013
A Grass-Roots Rally To Protect South Carolina's Massive 'Angel Oak'
Posted: Oct 4, 2013
WMBF News Interviews Amy Armstrong
Posted: Sep 24, 2013
Pawleys Island: Town takes over county effort to get groin permit
Posted: Jun 4, 2013
S.C. Supreme Court to rehear Capt. Sam’s Spit case
Posted: May 3, 2013
Developers say Capt. Sam’s Spit homes won’t disrupt park or habitat; others disagree
Posted: Apr 28, 2013
Public calls for coal ash to be hauled away from Conway's Grainger plant
Posted: Apr 23, 2013
Pawleys Island: Town may defend county’s permit for south end groin
Posted: Apr 4, 2013
Kiawah River erosion clips Beachwalker Park parking lot; environmentalists ask for new Capt. Sam’s Spit hearing
Posted: Mar 19, 2013
Proposed Wild Dunes beach erosion fix sparks concerns
Posted: Mar 5, 2013
A line in a lot of sand; Seabrook owner disputes re-cutting Capt. Sam’s Inlet
Posted: Feb 4, 2013
Council approves plans for Pawley's Island shopping center
Posted: Jan 9, 2013
Groups file appeal to halt permit for Charleston cruise terminal
Posted: Jan 4, 2013
2012
Pawleys Plaza: Planners expect new proposal without big-box store
Posted: Dec 14, 2012
As state’s wetlands dwindle, South Carolina seeks new answer
Posted: Nov 26, 2012
SCELP's Amy Armstrong was recently featured on WIS TV.
Posted: Oct 15, 2012
County Planning staff recommends rezoning for Pawleys Plaza
Posted: Sep 21, 2012
Supreme Court Wetlands Ruling
Posted: Jun 1, 2012
Marlboro in Fierce Fight Against Landfill
Posted: Apr 1, 2012
2011
Captain Sam's Ruling a Win!
Posted: Dec 2, 2011
Developer in Battle to Build Near Angel Oak
Posted: Nov 23, 2011
High Court Rules on Pawleys Island Land Fight
Posted: Jul 14, 2011
2010
Fight on to Save Lily Pond Arcadia Lakes; residents oppose dredging
Posted: Mar 29, 2010
Conservationists applaud long-awaited decision
Posted: Feb 2, 2010
2009
Appeal under way to allow Kiawah revetment
Posted: Dec 8, 2009
Developer's Claim Gets Hard Look
Posted: Dec 8, 2009
Judge Denies Landfill Permit
Posted: Nov 24, 2009
Critics Urge Changes in U.S. 601 Plan through Congaree National Park
Posted: Sep 9, 2009
2008
Bill Marscher Tribute
Posted: Jan 31, 2008
2007
Barnwell leaks worse than feared
Posted: Aug 19, 2007
Crusade inspired by refinery case
Posted: Jul 30, 2007
Underdog lawyer puts up good fight
Posted: Jul 29, 2007
Sand battle won't blow over
Posted: Jul 13, 2007
Citizens step up to the plate and hit one home in coastal protection case
Posted: Mar 9, 2007
Ex-senator liable in bridge lawsuit
Posted: Mar 6, 2007
RESIDENTS, LANDOWNERS MADE PARK POSSIBLE
Posted: Mar 5, 2007
Robert Ariail's Editorial Cartoon on Chem-Nuclear
Posted: Mar 4, 2007
NMB Opens Nature Park on Marsh
Posted: Jan 25, 2007
2006
Congaree bridge permits delayed
Posted: Aug 11, 2006
Land-use plan update critical, say residents
Posted: Jul 24, 2006
Wetlands bill represents compromise
Posted: Mar 7, 2006
2005
A chance to take part
Posted: May 24, 2005
With Lowe’s gone for the time being, what have we really accomplished?
Posted: May 22, 2005
2004
Neighbors claim abuse of power
Posted: Oct 1, 2004
Judge fines bulkhead owner
Posted: Aug 28, 2004
Seminar discusses erosion
Posted: Apr 8, 2004
Sea wall can stay for now
Posted: Mar 10, 2004
Court urged to jettison sea-wall ban
Posted: Mar 7, 2004
State takes public remarks on DeBordieu sand solution
Posted: Jan 1, 2004
2003
No Public Sand For DeBordieu
Posted: Nov 16, 2003
2002
A Public Forum on Growth
Posted: Oct 1, 2002
Fire guts 100-year-old house
Posted: Aug 1, 2002
Students mark law's anniversary
Posted: Aug 1, 2002
2001
No groins on beach, court says
Posted: Jun 18, 2001
2000
Nature's Guardian
Posted: Dec 1, 2000
Waste dump closed
Posted: Sep 23, 2000