Sunday, April 2, 2023

Carolina Beach dredging update: New test says arsenic not in soil touched by town

The latest update from Carolina Beach regarding the lake dredging project was presented at a Town Council meeting Tuesday (Port City Daily photo / MICHAEL PRAATS)
The latest update from Carolina Beach regarding the lake dredging project was presented at a Town Council meeting Tuesday (Port City Daily photo / MICHAEL PRAATS)

CAROLINA BEACH — The Town of Carolina Beach’s lake dredging project, which has been on hold for some time, continues its trudge toward a resolution. The project was suspended after a conflict with the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU), and will not continue until the town sorts out several issues.

“We have made a bit of progress but it has been slow progress. First and foremost, we have issued a request to have the contractor demobilize equipment from the lake dredging facility, that way there is no concern about any additional cost that may be claimed,” Town Manager Michael Cramer said.

Most of the heavy equipment that was on the lake has been removed and the barges are also gone. Cramer said he expects the cleanup process and final inspection to take until the end of November.

Cramer, along with Mayor Dan Wilcox and Councilman Gary Doetsch, met with the colonel who is in charge of MOTSU, along with several staff members, at the end of October to try and find a solution to the problem.

“We were basically talking through in a very polite, open and honest manner. It was a very good conversation, they seemed very responsive to things that we said and I believe we made a lot of progress,” Cramer said.

It has been two weeks since the meeting with MOTSU and Cramer said he was hoping to receive a letter from the military regarding what the town should do with the waste materials that have been put on MOTSU land, but the letter has not arrived.

Arsenic in the soil

Another issue with the dredge was the three environmental studies conducted on the lake dredging spoils. The two previous studies conducted did not set a baseline for contaminants or chemicals found in the materials, Cramer said, adding that this was why the town had a third environmental study conducted.

“What came back was that the baseline for the area outside of the lake and MOTSU contains no arsenic, the water in the lake itself contains no arsenic, the groundwater under and around the lake and MOTSU contains no arsenic, and the soil that we took out of the lake contains no arsenic,” Cramer said.

Arsenic was found in samples taken from material that still resides in the lake, however. Cramer said the next step will be finding out where the arsenic is, and what to do with the spoils that do contain the arsenic.

The next step will be to gather as much information by the Nov. 28 Town Council workshop which will be held to specifically address the lake dredging project, Cramer said.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he had more questions regarding the soil samples containing arsenic that would have to be answered at the workshop.

“We had different reports from all three of the (soil reports) so to say there is no arsenic in this ground when one of the other reports said there was, and then to tell us that all the dirt we took out had no arsenic but we still have arsenic in the soil tells me that we were the luckiest at how we dredged that soil. We managed to pull out just the material with arsenic in it …” Shuttleworth said.

Cramer said he will try and have the soil scientists come before the council at the end of the month.

Michael Praats can be reached at

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