In ruling against the project, the administrative law judge who heard the case, Robert E. Meale, criticized its potential environmental effects and denounced as "worthless" some of the engineering behind it. Advocates of the project, a sand-pumping effort known as beach nourishment, called the ruling misguided and said they feared that if it held up it would drive coastal towns to remedies that are more environmentally dangerous, like constructing seawalls or other coastal armor.
If the sand is too fine -- a particular issue in this case -- it can cause the water to become cloudy. And because the replacement sand moves around after it is pumped onto the beach, it can end up covering underwater rocks and coral reefs that are important to surfers, divers and anglers.
There are also growing worries about environmental damage where replacement sand is dredged. And the projects are heavily criticized because they often do not last as long as engineering models say they will.
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