Munitions debris may be found on former bombing range

Cherry Point contractors are scheduled to begin removing old munitions-related debris from the surface of Wood Island in the Bogue Sound later this month.

The three-week project is scheduled to start Feb. 21 at what was formerly known as Cat Island, which is located in the Bogue Sound about a half mile from the eastern side of Emerald Isle in Carteret County.

The island is the site of former Bomb Target 2 and was used to train military pilots in the 1940s and 1950s, according to a release from Cherry Point. It hasn’t been used as a target since 1955 and there are no plans to use it again.

Since 1957, the Navy has conducted multiple cleanup operations on the island. In the fall of 2010, 3,885 pounds of inert munitions debris was removed from Wood Island. Another 4,600 pounds of munitions debris was removed during the most recent cleanup in 2014, including the in-place destruction of a single 100-pound, high-explosive bomb. Other efforts to remove munitions occurred in 1957, 1963 and 2007.

This year’s project aims to locate and remove any additional munitions-related debris that may have surfaced or washed onto the island since 2014. Material that is deemed safe will be transported by water to Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue for processing. Metallic material that is verified as posing no explosive hazard will be shipped to a recycling facility.

Military officials believe it very unlikely that a munition would be found that couldn’t be safely removed from Wood Island for disposal. However, if need be, it will be safely destroyed onsite in a controlled detonation, according to the release. Residents of Emerald Isle near Wood Island might hear a muffled explosion in those cases.

To ensure public safety, public access will be restricted within a 1,833-foot radius around the island in all directions while cleanup operations are underway. The location of the restricted area will be communicated through a notice to mariners and by safety support boats stationed in Bogue Sound to alert boaters during cleanup operations.

Wood Island is U.S. Government property and is posted with danger and no trespassing signs. In the interest of safety, the public should not anchor boats near Wood Island, or go onto the island at any time.

The effort is in concurrence with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

The island is expected to be inspected again in three years or after any named tropical storm or hurricane to determine whether more cleanup is needed.