North Carolina

Hurricane Florence erosion exposed explosives buried on NC island, Marine base warns

Hurricane Florence plows thorough Marine Corps base

Video shows down power line and trees at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina.
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Video shows down power line and trees at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina.

Stay away.

That’s what officials at Camp Lejeune are telling boaters about Browns Island, where there already is a no-trespassing policy in place, according to a news release from the U.S. Marine base in North Carolina.

But Thursday’s announcement from Camp Lejeune said base officials are “reemphasizing” the message because of a new danger presented to those who use the Atlantic-Intracoastal Waterway near the island.

The Marines use the island along the North Carolina coast to conduct live-fire training exercises, according to the news release.

The military unit has also buried unexploded ordnance on the island, Camp Lejeune officials said. Now some of those “highly sensitive” explosives are exposed, making the island more treacherous for anyone in the area.

Base officials said the explosives have been exposed because of erosion caused by Hurricane Florence.

At least 50 people died as a result of Hurricane Florence, the News & Observer reported. The devastating storm that caused millions of dollars in damage is still creating peril in the Carolinas by exposing the buried artillery.

The hurricane erosion is the latest reason Camp Lejeune said that “Browns Island is strictly off-limits.” Base officials said this policy will be enforced for the safety of the community, according to the news release.

That means that boaters must not use any of the creeks or tributaries in the nearby waters, base officials said in the release.

A fire on privately owned Brown's Islands near the Outer Banks sent up a huge smoke plume near Harkers Island, east of Beaufort, North Carolina on May 23, 2019. The smoke could be seen, and smelled for miles around Carteret County.

But that is not the extent of the warning. Boaters in the Atlantic near the island are prohibited from stopping, dropping anchor, fishing with bottom-dragging nets, leaving crab traps, or getting off their vessels, according to the news release.

The danger exists in nearby waterways, Bear Creek and Muddy Creek, where there is no restrictions on travel but a risk exists because of the “possible presence of unexploded projectiles,” base officials said.

Both Military Police and the U.S. Coast Guard will patrol the area and issue citations to trespassers that are punishable by a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, according to the news release.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.

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