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Blind Pass restoration project containment cell not permanent

By Staff | Apr 3, 2009

If you’ve traveled across the Blind Pass bridge lately, you might have noticed the ongoing dredging process in Roosevelt Channel and a rather large metal structure on the Gulf side of the bridge.

“One sees this metal area that lately is being pumped full of sand and water and people have questioned whether that’s a permanent structure or temporary structure and what its purpose is,” said Captiva Erosion Prevention District chairman Mike Mullins, who said that some curious passersby have postulate that the cell is a permanent beach fixture designed to keep the pass from filling in again with sand from the Gulf.

This is not the case.

“In fact, it’s a temporary structure and its purpose is to collect the sand and shell material that’s being pumped from the deepest part of the pass during the dredging process that is considered to be non-beach compatible material,” Mullins said.

The non-compatible material will not be placed anywhere on the beach.

Instead, after it’s trucked upland to a temporary storage site, the clay-like material will be used as fill for a City of Sanibel sewer treatment plant.

But before the material can be hauled away, it has to be stored in the containment cell so that it can be dewatered.

“The cell collects the material, contains it from going back into the pass or the Gulf, allows the water to drain and then the residual sand will be dried somewhat and hauled by trucks periodically to various stations, possibly at ‘Ding’ Darling and elsewhere on Sanibel,” Mullins said, noting that as the material is being pumped in, there might be an odor issuing from the containment cell.

“Because the material comes from a lower section of what’s being dredged, there may be some live shell mollusks, invertebrates and other critters in the material that will give off a foul odor that doesn’t extend too far beyond the pass, but there will be a foul odor as these critters are being pumped into the containment cell along with the sand and shell and other materials that are found 10 and 12 feet deep into the pass,” Mullins said.

“The odor will be temporary, and when the containment cell is gone, the last thing they’re going to do when they’re finished dredging on the Gulf side is remove the containment cell and then open the area between the pass and the Gulf so that the water can flow through.”

The containment cell will be removed at the completion of the project around mid-July.

If you have questions about the containment cell, Blind Pass or any of Captiva’s beaches, contact the CEPD at 472-2472.