Potentially hazardous military flare destroyed on Chappy beach

The Trustees of Reservations discovered a marine marker flare on East Beach on Chappaquiddick Sunday. The flare was later destroyed. — The Trustees of Reservations

A State Police explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team that included Department of Defense members of the presidential security detail destroyed a Naval location marker flare found on East Beach on Chappaquiddick Sunday.

The Trustees of Reservations owns and or manages much of the Chappy beachfront. On Sunday, a Trustees ranger saw the approximately two-foot metal cannister in the intertidal zone near a spot known as the jetties, about a mile north of Dike bridge. The cannister carried a clear warning label. The ranger alerted police who notified the EOD team.

The device was destroyed about 5 pm, Sunday. The area was cleaned of metal fragments and the large hole left by the explosion filled in, Chris Kennedy, Trustees superintendent told The Times.

The locator flare, also known as a marine location marker, or MLM, is a powerful buoyant flare used by the Navy and Coast Guard to mark a position on the surface of the water. The Coast Guard uses the flares when conducting day and night helicopter drills, according to First District Coast Guard public affairs spokesman LT Karen Kutkiewicz.

MLMs contain phosphorus and are supposed to sink after burning out.

“The State Police Bomb Squad had members stationed on the Island during the Presidential visit,” Jennifer Mieth, public information officer for the state Department of Fire Services told The Times Monday. “Yesterday, they counter charged a marine marker flare that had washed up on the beach in Edgartown.”

Ms. Mieth said it is not uncommon for the bomb squad to respond to reports of marker flares. “These flares are left over from either training exercises or search and rescue missions,” she said. “Sometimes not all the contents are used up and they could re-ignite or cause chemical burns. It is important for the public not to touch them and to notify local authorities.”

Ms. Mieth said reports of marker flares increase during the summer months when there are more people at the beach.