No UXO found on Bear Island

15 Nov 2010 | Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune is being a responsible neighbor and ensuring that a half mile of Bear Island on Hammock’s Beach State Park, N.C., is free of unexploded ordnance.

 “Roughly a year ago, when we discovered that a section of Bear Island fell in range of one of our rocket training areas, we conducted an aerial survey with a magnetometer and discovered metal under the surface of the beach, as well as the surrounding waters,” said Dutch Schulz, a range development project officer with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.“Now we are reviewing what they found and ensuring that no unexploded ordnance is in the area.”

Bristol Environmental Remediation Services, the company tasked with the job of locating any UXO, has investigated more than the 130 metallic readings on the island. As the mission drew to an end, they were proud to say that although they had uncovered many metallic objects, none of them were unexploded ordnance.

“We did pull up a lot of metal trash, a pit full of Beanie Weenies cans and a Navy (jet-assisted take-off) bottle,” said Wendell Morgan, a senior project manager for North Carolina with Bristol Environmental Remediation Services. “We’ve almost cleared everything, we just have one more spot marked right where the waves are.”

Bristol hired divers to check the waters and make sure they were UXO-free. Land and Sea Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, an EOD company, made up of retired Navy EOD personnel, used the skills learned in the military to protect any visitors to Bear Island.

“From our perspective, if there’s something in the water, we want to find it,” said a diver with LASEOD. “If it’s between calling it a day and doing one more pass, were going to do an extra sweep.”

The highly-trained team staked out an area and used metal detectors to pinpoint the exact location of the metallic object in the water.

The project was originally scheduled to be complete by Dec. 3, but is now over. Morgan said it was partially due to the nice weather and the fact that no UXO was discovered. Another factor was the park rangers were more than eager to lend any assistance possible.

“Those guys cooperated with us all the way,” added Morgan.

As the mission came to a conclusion, UXO professionals left knowing that they had put forth their best effort in ensuring that Bear Island and the surrounding waterways were safe for anyone going out to enjoy the ocean.

“We came here with a goal in mind, make as little impact as possible on the environment when we looked for UXOs,” said Morgan. “We also removed all the metallic objects we found, and in the end, left it cleaner than before.”