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Why are there ‘bowling ball’ sized rocks along the Myrtle Beach shore?

The Myrtle Beach coast has been a little rocky lately.

Following a $45 million beach renourishment project along the Grand Strand and Hurricane Dorian grazing the Carolina coast as a Category 2 storm earlier this month, a cluster of large rocks have been scattered along Myrtle Beach between 69th Avenue North and 82nd Avenue North.

Tod O’Briant, beach coordinator with the Public Works Department, said the beach has been flooded with “bowling ball” sized rocks since the beach renourishment project concluded in June. He said the dump trucks, which added about 3 million cubic yards of sand to Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City Beach, hit a borrow pit about a half mile off shore near Springmaid Pier full of rocks.

The rocks were inevitably dumped throughout the beach, resulting in public works having to remove them daily from the beach, O’Briant said.

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Photo Courtesy of the Myrtle Beach Public Works Department

Beach renourishment involves barges floating offshore to suck up sand from the ocean floor and pump it to the beach. From there, bulldozers push the sand around, raising the level of the beach to help protect beachfront properties from storm impacts.

While most of the large rocks were picked up prior to Dorian, he said, the storm, along with King tides, brought the remaining rocks buried underneath the sand to the surface.

“After a good storm or whenever they start appearing on the beach, we get out there, pick them up and haul them off,” O’Briant said. “All we can do is pick them up as they appear because they’re under the surface.”

While rocks on the beach is only a minor inconvenience to beachgoers, O’Briant said beach maintenance equipment has endured close to $5,000 worth of damage.

Public works uses a beach rake machine everyday to clean the beach, O’Briant said, adding that the machine is designed to shift through sand and pick up small items along the surface, like trash and cigarette butts. But it’s not made for heavy rocks, he said.

“When it has to pick up those rocks, the teeth can’t handle those large heavy objects,” O’Briant said. “It breaks the teeth and the screening belt inside.”

O’Briant said the screening belt has been replaced four times since June, with the belt costing $1,200. In preparing for the beach renourishment project, he said public works also ordered a second rake for the department to use, which cost about $85,000.

“We bought an extra one at the beginning of the season because we knew renourishment would require extra maintenance,” O’Briant said. “Without renourishment, the rakes would normally last for about a year. But we knew we were going to incur these costs.”

O’Briant said the beaches should be back to normal around June next year.

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Anna Young is the Coastal Cities reporter for The Sun News covering anything and everything that happens locally. Young, an award-winning journalist who got her start reporting local news in New York, is dedicated to upholding the values of journalism by listening, learning, seeking out the truth and reporting it accurately. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from SUNY Purchase College.
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