Construction Debris Found in Sand on South Florida Beaches

Miami Beach residents and officials are calling for action after they claim sand from a construction site contained dangerous debris.

Records exclusively obtained by NBC 6 show a building in Surfside records was the source of the debris that was found in the sand several miles south on Miami Beach.

Some residents in Surfside said it's the very same thing that happened to them when debris from another construction side was dumped on their beach.

Both communities are calling for a clean up right before prime time for the beaches.

"There's nails, screws, concrete boulders, rocks, pieces of wood with lead paint in the sand," said Surfside resident Debbie Cimadevilla.

Images show what state inspectors located when walking on a section of Miami Beach near 57th Street and Collins Avenue several weeks ago, with glass and nails just some of the items in the sand.

"It's got construction materials in there which could pose a danger to the people out there. The residents have complained about it," Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said.

A Florida Department of Environmental Protection report said "the debris included...obvious shards of glass, acrylic, and mirrored glass were observed every few steps...Small pieces of concrete, broken tiles, formica, paint chips, and rusted nails were also discovered."

It's not the sand Miami Beach officials said they thought they were getting.

"The sand is supposedly tested by the state and reviewed by the county before they place it out there, we don't play a part in that process," Morales said. "So we assumed who would put stuff out there that had construction material. They claim they don't know either how it got in there."

Some Surfside residents said those living on Miami Beach are now getting a taste of what they have been dealing with for over a year and a half. The sand on the Surfside beach is coming from a separate development underway on Collins Avenue, the Surf Club.

"Right now, they are not in compliance," Surfside City Manager Guillermo Olmedillo said, adding that the town has asked for removal and replacement of the sand.

The Surf Club said it "has, and will continue to, diligently follow all of the State of Florida’s requirements regarding the excavation and transfer of compatible sand onto the beach, keeping the best interests of our beach, its inhabitants, and our shared community in mind."

County health officials said they found no dangerous toxic levels on the beach but some residents said even though they live steps from paradise they don't go and don't allow their kids there either.

"The bigger picture on this is the FDEP permitted this irresponsible action, to take excavated fill from a demolition site and to dump it on a public beach," Cimadevilla said.

The developer at the Surf club said the sand is safe so don't stay away and it is working with the state to come up with a new plan to fix any trouble. Complicating the matter is that it is turtle nesting season now so no heavy equipment can come out on the beach.

The Surf Club said the sand will be replaced after turtle season ends on Nov. 1.

The county said it's trying to fix the situation on Miami Beach.

The attorney for the developer who put the sand on Miami Beach said that the situation has gotten much better since the FDEP inspection was obtained. She said they have been sifting everyday and made dramatic progress in removing any of the debris that was there.

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