Port Angeles posts signs warning of 'developing sink holes' at Hollywood Beach
Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Signs surround a water-filled depression made visible during Saturday morning's minus-2.6 tide at Hollywood Beach in Port Angeles.
Jeremy Schwartz/Peninsula Daily News
Bob Campbell, facility coordinator for the Feiro Marine Life Center, left, and Corey Delikat, Port Angeles city parks and recreation director, discuss mysterious sinkholes that have formed off Hollywood Beach, prompting the city to place warning signs, which are seen in the background.
By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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City crews posted signs near the holes Friday after Bob Campbell, facility coordinator for the Feiro Marine Life Center, alerted Corey Delikat, the city's parks and recreation director, to them.
“Danger, area closed,” the signs read. “Developing sinkholes in area.”
“They're just kind of odd for our area,” Delikat said of the holes, which are 1 to 2 feet deep and roughly 6 to 7 feet wide at the beach, adjacent to City Pier.
“Since I've been here, I've not seen anything like this here,” said Campbell, who has lived in the community for 12 years.
Typically, the beach is level and gently sloping, he said.
What caused them?
“We don't know,” Delikat said.
The holes are about 100 to 130 feet from the beach's high-tide mark, Delikat and Campbell estimated.
All other areas of Hollywood Beach remain open, Delikat said.
“The areas we've posted are areas we want people to stay away from,” he said.
The holes, which collect water and form pools when the tide is out, are especially visible during minus-2 and minus-1 tides, Campbell said, which are predicted for this morning as well as the early hours of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
They still can be seen during plus-1 tides, Campbell said.
Noticed weeks ago
Campbell said he noticed the holes a few weeks ago when he was seining for fish off Hollywood Beach as part of a Feiro class.
He didn't tell Delikat immediately because he thought they would naturally fill back in.
Once Delikat heard about them earlier last week, he contacted the city's engineering department because he suspected the holes might have been related to a possible leak in the city's main wastewater line, which runs underneath the beach to the city's wastewater treatment plant near the former Rayonier mill site.
“We pretty well ruled that out,” City Engineer Mike Puntenney said Friday.
City engineering crews pumped dye through the line and did not find any of it percolating through the holes, he said.
Also, the wastewater line is much closer to the beach than the holes are, Puntenney added.
What might be the cause?
“I don't even want to venture a guess on that,” Puntenney said.
He consulted with a few private engineers in the area for answers.
“They didn't have an explanation, and they referred me to a geologist,” he said.
Puntenney said he hopes to bring in just such a specialist in the coming week to shed some light on the subject.
In the meantime, beachgoers are asked to be cautious.
“The next step is to find out what's causing [them] and take steps to repair the issue,” Delikat said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: July 12. 2014 8:36PM