Military Munitions Debris Closes Section Of Assateague Beach

ASSATEAGUE, Md. (AP) — The National Park Service has closed a section of beach at the Assateague Island National Seashore after military munitions debris washed ashore.

The park service announced Sunday that the partial closure is in effect for the North Beach swimming area in Maryland. The area where lifeguards are usually stationed is closed until further notice, but officials said the beach is open north and south of that area, with lifeguards stationed south of their usual location.

The closure comes after the discovery of at least seven pieces of military munitions debris on the beach over the last two weeks, the park service said in a news release. Most are just metal fragments, but since some may still contain residue of explosives or propellant, they must be considered dangerous, officials said.

The U.S. Navy used this area of the island as a test range for rockets and bombs in the 1940s and the debris was buried in pits on the island in the 1950s, officials said. However, with sea level rise and the natural movement of the island, officials said some of those pits are now offshore. They said a May Nor'easter likely uncovered one of the pits, leading to ordnance washing ashore.