In March of 2007, shortly after completion of the initial construction of the Barnegat Inlet to Little Egg Inlet Coastal Storm Risk Management project, a number of discarded military munitions were discovered on the beaches in Surf City, N.J. These World War I-era munitions had been discarded offshore and, though the borrow area was screened prior to its use; munitions were inadvertently pumped onto the beach during the nourishment process.
Since then, the US Army Corps of Engineers, (USACE) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, (NJDEP), have operated under the assumption that there is a reasonable probability discarded munitions may be anywhere offshore. USACE and NJDEP have implemented a precautionary screening process for all coastal beachfill projects. The process was developed by USACE munitions specialists and implemented with careful coordination with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. It has been used successfully on other projects by USACE and NJDEP since 2007.
What is it?
The process involves a two-step screening of the dredged material and increased inspection with oversight from munitions experts. Dredging vessels are outfitted with special screens on the intake drag-head, or hydraulic cutter head which is the mechanism that extracts the sand off the bottom of the sea floor. These screens are sized to preclude any known munitions from entering the dredge system. In addition, as a secondary precaution before the sand and water is discharged onto the beach, all material filters through a screening basket with smaller diameter openings prior to placement. As the process is taking place, specially trained inspectors from both USACE and the NJDEP will monitor screens, baskets and all land-based operations while any material is being placed on the beach.
Has it been done before?
This process has been successfully implemented by USACE since 2007 at all beach nourishment projects throughout New Jersey and Delaware. The NJDEP has also implemented the process on their recent projects at Ocean City, Strathmere, and North Wildwood, NJ. In all cases no munitions made it to the beaches.