08-05-2007, 09:30 PM #1
Army Corps dumps old bombs, charges town
SURF CITY, N.J. - The Army Corps of Engineers, which accidentally dumped sand filled with old military ordnance on Surf City's beach, now wants the town to help pay to remove it.
Local officials are angered by the suggestion that they should help foot the bill for a federal goof that already has cost the town an unknown amount of tourism business.
"If they're talking about getting any money out of Surf City to pay for their mistakes, they can forget about it," Mayor Leonard T. Connors told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Army Corps spokesman Khaalid Walls said local governments are routinely asked to help pay for projects.
"That's protocol. All our projects are cost-shared," Walls said.
The town had to close its beach in March after World War I-era ordnance, including fuses and other military hardware, started surfacing in sand pumped ashore during a $71 million beach replenishment project.
According to Walls, the Army Corps unwittingly took sand from an offshore site where the military had dumped explosives decades ago.
More than 1,100 explosives, each about 4 inches in diameter and 8 inches long, were removed from Surf City's beach.
Surf City reopened its beach over Memorial Day weekend with new rules: Don't use metal detectors, don't dig more than a foot into the sand, and report anything suspicious to lifeguards.
Even so, visitors since then have found about a dozen more munitions, the Army Corps says. The Army has an ordnance specialist at the beach full time to take charge of discovered explosives.
It's unlikely that one of the explosives would ever detonate, but it would be extremely dangerous if it did, said Keith Watson, the Army Corps' project manager.
The Army Corps, along with state and local officials, are considering a possible closure of the beach during the winter to clear out more ordnance.
The Army Corps might sieve the entire beach with machinery, or it might bring back the ground-penetrating metal-detection equipment used in the spring.
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