Minor pipe leaks and breaks in the dredging operation of Braddock Cove creek on Hilton Head Island have been fixed and did not cause environmental damage, a project manager says.
Work on Braddock Cove, which began Jan. 25, was completed through the main channel, including Gull Point, and is advancing toward South Beach marina, Portside and Port Villas, said Larry Setzler of GEL Engineering, the lead inspector and project manager.
Contractor Orion Marine Group Inc. has dealt with three leaks since Jan. 27, according to daily dredge reports, and they did not result in an accumulation of sediment, Setzler said.
The reports are available online at the South Island Dredging Association website.
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Plans for the project, which began Dec. 4 at Harbour Town Yacht Basin, are to pump more than 240,000 cubic yards of sediment to a 100-acre site at the mouth of Calibogue Sound. From there, the tide should sweep the dredge spoil out to sea, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Minor leaks are expected when using equipment that has been repeatedly cut apart and welded back together, as the pipeline has, Setzler said.
"It's exposed to a lot of different elements moving from job to job, as well as on the job," Setzler said.
- On Jan. 27, crews applied a patch to a pinhole leak and fused a broken pipe, an inspection report said.
- On Jan. 29, Orion Marine found a leak while dredging the Braddock Cove entrance channel, a report said.
- On Feb. 4, crews responded to another pinhole leak, this time just north of the curve in the beach, according to the reports.
The incidents halted operations for about 12 hours.
"We don't think we had any extraordinary issues with the pipe so far," Setzler said. "We're hoping to finish the majority of the work by the end of the month."
Army Corps of Engineers project manager Robin Coller-Socha said the pipe leaks and breaks are to be expected on such a project and are not cause for concern.
"The leaks and breaks are all very minor," Coller-Socha said. And what sediment did leak was minimal and unlikely to harm marine life or habitat, she said.
"We're keeping a close watch on this one, and things are going very well," Coller-Socha said. "We have no concerns at this point."
It's the first private dredging project in the state allowed to dump dredge spoil in inshore waters, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The work is expected to be finished by mid-March.
The project also is the first for Sea Pines waterways since state and federal regulators halted a 2003 effort. That halt came after a contractor was accused of improperly dumping dredge spoil into Calibogue Sound instead of the approved offshore site. The project manager was acquitted of federal charges.
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.