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'If you equate it to the animal world, most of our beaches have reached the point of extinction and can only survive in captivity.'

September 20, 1988|JAY GOLDMAN

Workers moved nearly a million tons of sand to El Segundo earlier this year, creating almost 20 acres of recreational beach.

But few people use the sandy new expanse opposite the Scattergood power plant. The large, noisy generating facility nearby and the lack of easy access to the area discourage all but the most determined fans of the new beach.

On a recent weekday summer afternoon, only a lone man could be found walking along the red sand of the beach with numerous pelicans and gulls to keep him company. The only lifeguard post on the beach stood empty.

"This is a big improvement," said the 50-year-old beach goer, who did not want to give his name so his boss would not discover that he had taken an extended lunch hour. The man said he has used El Segundo beach for five years, attracted by its isolation and lack of crowds.

"Before, you could only walk out here at low tide; often the water was beating against the rocks," he said.

Although the new beach area is mostly unused, the man who organized the sand transfer considers the operation a success.

"This is very significant," said Gregory Woodell, a planner for the county's Department of Beaches and Harbors. "There is no way to know how long these new beaches will last. But some of the new sand will eventually be carried south and replenish the beaches there for years to come."

Beaches are disappearing throughout the country because many of the streams that once carried new sand to the ocean and offset beach erosion have been dammed or eliminated, Woodell said. That is why until recently most of El Segundo beach was under water, except at low tide.

"If you equate it to the animal world, most of our beaches have reached the point of extinction and can only survive in captivity," Woodell said.

The El Segundo beach is now a wide expanse of dark red sand more than 200 feet wide and 3,000 feet long stretching north from 45th Street at the El Segundo-Manhattan Beach border.

The new beach, and a smaller expansion of Dockweiler State Beach, are byproducts of excavation work for expansion of the nearby Hyperion sewage treatment plant.

Beginning last February, workers loaded a million tons of sand--equivalent to 22 acres of new beach--onto a 1 1/2-mile-long conveyor belt that carried it from Hyperion, under a four-lane street, to El Segundo and Dockweiler. Once the sand arrived, bulldozers pushed it into the sea to create the new beach.

The sand transfer was completed in late July.

Woodell is now eyeing another million tons of sand that construction at Hyperion will displace in 1990. He is hoping that the City of Los Angeles will use the sand to restore portions of Venice Beach. The recent transfusion of sand to El Segundo and Dockweiler can serve as a model, Woodell said. "This shows it can be done."

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