The sun-drenched tranquility of Quansoo Beach in Chilmark was shattered on Friday afternoon by a bomb scare, which shut the beach down for two hours.
Fortunately, the “bomb” turned out to be a piece of wood with a metallic sheen.
According to Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) Martha’s Vineyard superintendent, a beachgoer was strolling along the just-opened cut to Tisbury Great Pond when he saw a large brown metallic object sticking out of the cut.
“They notified our Trustees rangers, and Alex Dorr, our beach manager, went to investigate. After looking at it, he reported it to the [Communications Center].”
Mr. Kennedy said Islander Tom Rancich, who owns an underwater unexploded demolitions company, was called, and couldn’t positively identify the object, which had a metallic sheen. Then an expert from the Army Corps subcontractor GSI Pacific was called.
“He went over and stuck a knife in it, and it turned out to be a piece of wood,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Beachgoers in the Long Point vicinity have reason to be vigilant about possible ordnance.
On June 20, a 100-pound flash bomb was discovered at Long Point by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working for the Formerly Used Defense Sites Program (FUDS). It required a controlled detonation by the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad and the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal team from Newport, R.I.
FUDS crews have been working on the Vineyard since 2010 to scan for and recover practice bombs used by pilots in training during WWII. The operation has taken much longer than initially expected, due to the large quantity of ordnance found and the wider-than-expected range that was hit by the beginning bomber pilots. Work has been primarily focused on Chappaquiddick, where the operation is winding down, according to Army Corps project manager Carol Charette. Work will resume in September at Long Point, and provided there are no more algae bloom delays or unforeseen events, Ms. Charette expects FUDS to be done by the end of the year.
“In retrospect, it’s kind of humorous, but we applaud the person who reported it,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I’d rather call in the experts to confirm it’s a piece of wood than have someone dismiss it as a piece of driftwood, and then turn into a much more serious situation.”