News Releases

USACE removing WWI-era boosters from recently renourished beaches in Allenhurst and Loch Arbour, New Jersey

Published May 11, 2015

** Initial surface sweep and removal of items expected to be done by Memorial Day **

NEW YORK – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection provide this update on the ongoing efforts to remove WWI era boosters from the Allenhurst and Loch Arbour beaches, following the recent beachfill placement.

The ongoing construction contract has to date placed roughly 350,000 cubic yards of sand along the shore in front of Loch Arbour and Allenhurst. As with all other beach renourishment contracts, measures were in place to prevent MEC (Munitions and Explosives of Concern) to reduce the chance for these items to find their way to the beach. The use of a new area within the permitted Sea Bright borrow area has evidenced a new type of MEC never before encountered during beachfill projects. The design of these boosters is such that they were not captured by the MEC baskets in place and as a result they were inadvertently allowed onto the beach. The area affected is roughly 2,000 to 2,500 feet of beach in Loch Arbour and Allenhurst. While the boosters are not armed, they may contain aged explosives and should not be handled by the public.

  • Modifications to Construction Activities: The screening baskets used on site to prevent munitions-related items from reaching the beach during sand pumping operations are being modified with new screens. 
    • The particular boosters, which are made of brass, have never been encountered by the Corps of Engineers during beach construction activities. 
      • Their unique composition appeared to cause them to float to the top of and ultimately bypass screening mechanisms which are in place to prevent items related to munitions from reaching the beach. 
        • This represents the first time any munitions-related items have reached the beach during sand placement activities in New Jersey since the current screening measures became standard nearly 10 years ago 
      • The modifications to the screening process are designed specifically to prevent any additional boosters from being pumped ashore going forward. 
  • Ongoing Response: Corps of Engineers personnel are conducting a survey of the surface of the beach using all-metal detectors to identify any boosters (or other possible MEC) on the surface of the beach and roughly 1 to 2 feet below the surface. 
    • This effort has so far uncovered roughly 90 of these boosters. 
    • This surface sweep does not entail beach closures and is expected to be completed prior to Memorial Day weekend. 
  • Further Investigation Going Forward: The Corps of Engineers will work with the NJDEP and local officials to coordinate a more intrusive investigation that will involve temporarily removing portions of the top layer of sand in an organized fashion to subsequently use metal detectors to survey deeper into the sand that has been placed. 
    • There is not currently a timeframe when this work is expected to begin. That will be coordinated with the NJDEP and local officials. 
    • Beach closures would be anticipated during these activities, but they would be localized to the earthmoving equipment removing layers of sand so as to keep the public away from active heavy equipment.

More about the Boosters:

The boosters encountered found on the beach, pictured above, are roughly the size of a C battery and are made of brass. They are one of multiple components that would make up a WWI-era projectile that would have been fired from artillery. They would connect a fuze to the explosives in an artillery round. No other components associated with WWI-era projectiles have been encountered on the beach. While the boosters are not armed, they may contain aged explosives and should not be handled by the public.

The public is asked to avoid contact with these or any suspect item if they should encounter them. The public is asked to follow the 3Rs of explosives safety: Recognize, Retreat, Report.

o   Recognize when you may have encountered a munition and that munitions are dangerous
o   Retreat - do not approach, touch, move or disturb it, but move away from it
o   Report what you saw and where you saw it to local authorities by calling 911 or alerting local officials (e.g., a lifeguard). Police officials have been asked to contact the USACE Environmental & Explosive Safety personnel working on the contract

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Chris Gardner

Release no. 15-004