Beach cleanup turns up hazardous find

The military container carried a warning label that warned it contained phosphorus. — Photo courtesy of Tisbury Police

A man participating in the annual Earth Day beach cleanup Saturday stumbled upon a potentially hazardous portion of a military marking rocket, picked it up despite clear warnings, and took it to the Tisbury Police station.

Detective Mark Santon said the man, whom he did not identify, found the cylindrical tube at the water’s edge on Makonikey Beach in West Tisbury. “So he put it in the back seat of his car and delivered it to the police station,” Detective Santon said. “Along with a hypodermic needle.”

Police removed the tube from the man’s car and closed off half the police station parking lot with yellow tape. Fire chief John Schilling also responded.

With state explosive experts focused on the Marathon bombing and unable to assist, a Naval explosives expert based in Newport, Rhode Island, looked at a photo Mr. Santon provided and identified the object as a potentially dangerous phosphorous charge.

Police used the Tisbury harbor patrol boat to pick up the Navy expert. He placed the tube in a safe container and transported it to the mainland for safe disposal.

As for what private citizens should do if they come upon a suspicious object on the beach, experts give the following advice: “Recognize, Retreat, Report. Recognize that the item could be ordnance, retreat from the item the way you approached it, and report it to the police.”