Bombs wash up on NC beaches

May 25, 2010 3:33:04 AM PDT
With its pristine beaches, beautiful properties, and quaint village, it's easy to see why Bald Head Island attracts so many.

But if you take a closer look near the lighthouse and picturesque marina, there's a warning-a public notice about unexploded bombs being found on the beach. A military hotspot used as a fort during the American Revolution and Civil War, evidence of Bald Head Island's rich military history is now washing up in the sand.

"We found all of the ordnances on South Beach up till this point," explained Asst. Village Manager and Shoreline Protection manager Chris McCall.

McCall started getting reports of people finding unexploded ordnance on south beach after the island started a private sand re-nourishment project. From November through April, sand was dredged from the opposite side of the Cape Fear River and then pumped onto the beach to help with erosion.

This was an area that hadn't been dredged before, so it was not uncommon to find those types of ordnances," said McCall.

The explosives found on Bald Head range from Civil War munitions from the late 1800s to coastal defense artillery rounds. And while some are more than 100 years old, they're still potentially dangerous. Officials say if you spot one, don't touch it and call 911 right away.

Whatever you do, don't treat it as a souvenir.

"We've heard stories where folks have taken ordnances home and placed it on the mantle by the fireplace," said McCall.

That's a potentially dangerous move according to experts

"Several of the ones we found were still live," explained Sgt. Daniel Evers a Marine bomb disposal expert based at Camp Lejeune.

So far, 12 unexploded bombs have been found on Bald Head in the last six months.

Bald Head's situation is not unique. Military ordinance shows up around the world every day. Earlier this month, about 75 homes in England were evacuated at a beach when a WWII mine was found. And in April, experts were called to George Clooney's vacation home in Italy when unexploded aircraft bombs were found underwater.

Experts say if you see something metal on the beach you can't identify. It's best to leave it alone.

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