Hazardous ‘shells’ in the sand
May 10 2007 | Coastal Preservation,
by Chad Nelsen
Hazardous 'shells' in the sand
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
BY JUDY PEET
The homemade poster with the skull and crossbones was taken down, but the official sign still stands behind the fencing closing off every beach in Surf City:
Danger: Unexploded Ordnance Found. Beaches Closed Until Further Notice. Do Not Enter.
While other Jersey Shore towns are busy sprucing up the beaches for Memorial Day, the residents of Surf City stare wistfully at a brand new, replenished oceanfront that has been closed since March 5, when a beachcomber with a metal detector found a rusty fuse at the surf's edge.
Since then, cleanup crews for the Army Corps of Engineers have found more than 1,000 unexploded old munitions. They were buried in the 500,000 cubic yards of sand that was sucked up from the ocean floor and sprayed onto the shore in the first phase of the Long Beach Island beach replenishment project.
More than $2 million has already been spent recovering the old military ordnance, but project leaders warn they cannot guarantee the Surf City beaches will be reopened for the all-important start of the summer season less than three weeks away.
"We were ahead of schedule and should have been done by now, but then the nor'easter hit. There was a significant movement of sand and more ordnance emerged," said George Follett, a retired Navy bomb expert and corps munitions expert, as he gazed at crews with metal detectors scouring the sand.
"So we're going back over the entire 8,100-foot stretch of beach, to do it again," this time going into the surf, 150-feet out from the low tide mark, he added.
The 1.6-mile stretch covers every beach in Surf City and a few of the northern beaches in neighboring Ship Bottom.
Even when the cleanup is done, Follett said, that does not mean the beach will get a clean bill of health. The equipment used to detect the ordnance is effective down only to about three feet. The amount of dredged sand deposited on the beach is eight feet deep in some places.
"I am calling this 'phase one' of the cleanup. We're not sure yet what the other phases will be, but we will have to come back as beach erosion progresses," or after any significant storm, Follett said.
Read on at: http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-11/1178600065134500.xml&coll;=1