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Contact: Hugh Hawthorne, 410-629-6080Berlin MD-
A partial closure is in effect for the North Beach Swimming area at the Maryland unit of Assateague Island National Seashore. The “normal” lifeguarded beach area is closed until further notice. The beach is open both north and south of the lifeguarded area. The parking lot remains open. The Beach Hut will remain open. Lifeguards will be located immediately south of their normal area.
This closure is in effect because of the discovery of multiple (7 and counting), pieces of military munitions debris on the beach over the last two weeks. During the 1940s, the US Navy used this area of Assateague Island as a test range for rockets and bombs. In the 1950s a clean up was done, and munitions debris was buried in pits on the island. Due to the natural movement of the island and seas level rise, some of these pits are now offshore. It is likely that the large Nor’easter in May disturbed the nearshore seafloor and uncovered one of these pits. This has resulted in pieces of ordinance coming ashore.
Most of these pieces are just metal fragments, but some may still contain residue of either explosives or propellent and thus must be considered dangerous. Ocean City Bomb Squad and the Dover AFB EOD team have been assisting the park in dealing with these items. If you find a piece of unidentified metal on the beach, please do not touch it, and notify park staff. Unfortunately, there have been several instances of visitors picking up rocket fragments and carrying them to either the lifeguards or, in one instance the visitor center. Please do not do this as it is potentially very dangerous.
Park Management will be meeting this week with EOD experts in an effort to develop a plan for going forward. At this time, it is not known how long the closure will be in effect. Again-this is not a complete closure of North Beach-but please do not enter the closed areas or cross the closure barriers.
For general information about the Seashore and park activities access the park’s web site at www.nps.gov/asis or call 410-641-1441.
Last updated: July 31, 2022