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Beach project continues to raise reef concerns

Complaints have surfaced over a massive beach rebuilding project in the Town of Palm Beach.

For the second time in as many weeks, complaints have surfaced over a massive beach rebuilding project in the Town of Palm Beach.

"The reef was really pristine right before they pumped the sand," said Nicola Lugo, a surfing photographer and founder of an online surf magazine.

Lugo says he's been enjoying the ocean at Phipps Park in the Town of Palm Beach since his early teenage years. Lugo is furious about the beach renourishment project now going on there.

"(They) murdered the reef that is so special to me and all my friends," said Lugo.

The Town pumps in sand from offshore every few years, to offset sand losses from erosion. The current $17 million project is being paid for entirely by the Town.

The Town's public works director, Paul Brazil, told CBS12 the Town has constructed artificial reefs, to mitigate the nearshore rock reef now being buried by the renourishment project.

Just last week, CBS12 investigated a complaint that the suspended particles in the water exceeded levels allowed in the Town's construction permit.

Brazil said high turbidity is common when a project first gets underway, and work was stopped when that happened, so there was no permit violation.

The group making last week's complaint, Palm Beach County Reef Rescue, said again on Tuesday of this week, their own readings show turbidity slightly exceeding allowable levels.

The Town says its readings show full compliance.

Ed Tichenor, of Reef Rescue, said he's also requesting the state send a dive team to inspect a reef further offshore. Tichenor said a video from a dive excursion showed murky waters on that reef.

Brazil said he was not aware of any problems on that reef.

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