Army Corps plans to beat the tourist rush
The Army Corps of Engineers' search for World War II bombs and ordnance parts on a one-mile stretch of South Beach will likely be completed by June 19. Similar work on Wasque and Cape Pogue will finish by May 10, the search project manager told Edgartown selectmen and residents on Monday.
"We are sensitive to your concerns about impact on the tourist business, and we are planning to complete the work before the heavy tourist season," Kim Meacham, project engineer for the Army Corps' Time Critical Removal Action (TCRA), said at a public hearing called by selectman. Ms. Meacham is also an environmental engineer at the Military Munitions Design Center in Huntsville, Ala., which is supporting the project.
She called the timeline realistic, but she would not guarantee the completion date to Michael Donaroma, new chairman of the Edgartown selectmen. "That would depend on how much, if anything, we find and how long it takes to remediate," she said. Search work began on Monday with no reported findings on the first day, she said.
Termed a Time Critical Removal Action, the project is being carried out by the New England District Army Corps of engineers, with support from the Army's worldwide bomb remediation support center, based in Huntsville.
Search teams will focus on Shear Pen Pond at Little Neck on Cape Pogue and on a one-mile stretch of South Beach near Norton Point Beach at Katama, according to schematics included in a slide presentation by Ms. Meacham.
While her presentation attracted just one question in addition to Mr. Donaroma's, Ms. Meacham underscored the need for public awareness of potential danger from unexploded ordnance, offering a slide of a backyard birdbath fashioned from a bomb part as an example of lack of awareness.
The search areas will be posted with signs explaining the work and will provide cautionary tips for reporting the presence of ordnance by civilians. She advised resident Pamela Spencer to mark a possible bomb location and to immediately report a finding. "Stay away from it, use your cooler, for example, to mark the area and report it immediately," she advised.
Ms. Meacham said the signs will be "Enticing and informative. We are not looking to scare the living daylights out of tourists," she said. The project also calls for training lifeguards and employees of The Trustees of Reservations, which owns most of the affected areas. She also said a remedial feasibility study will be conducted beginning in October, and a long term monitoring plan will be developed following the study.
The project follows discovery of two 100-pound bombs in the South Beach area in March 2008 and February 2009.