A section of the Assateague Island National Seashore has been temporarily closed due to surfaced World War II ordnance. The closure affects the North Beach swimming area in the Maryland portion of the park.
The “normal” supervised beach area is closed until further notice. The beach is open to the north and south of the supervised area. The car park remains open. The beach hut will remain open. Lifeguards will be located immediately south of their normal area.
This closure is indeed due to the discovery of multiple (7 and more), pieces of military ammunition debris on the beach over the past two weeks. During the 1940s, the US Navy used this area of Assateague Island as a rocket and bomb testing ground. In the 1950s, a clean-up was carried out and remnants of ammunition were buried in pits on the island. Due to the natural movement of the island and rising sea levels, some of these pits now lie offshore. It is likely that the Great Nor’easter of May disturbed the coastal seabed and uncovered one of these pits. This resulted in ordinances coming ashore.
Most of these parts are just metal fragments, but some may still contain explosive or propellant residue and should therefore be considered dangerous. Ocean City Bomb Squad and the Dover AFB EOD team assisted the park with these items. If you find an unidentified piece of metal on the beach, do not touch it but inform the park staff. Unfortunately, there were several instances where visitors picked up rocket fragments and took them to rescuers or, in one case, to the visitor center. Please do not do this as it is potentially very dangerous.
At this time, it is unknown how long the closure will be in effect.