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WWI-Era Ammunition Boosters Found On NJ Beaches During Replenishment Project

ALLENHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A beach replenishment project has pumped battery-sized components of World War I-era ammunition onto some New Jersey beaches, and officials are warning people who find them to alert authorities.

Workers armed with metal detectors are unfortunately not looking for buried treasure on the beach in front of Ocean Place and Cedar Avenue, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

More than 90 boosters for howitzer projectiles, the size of a C battery, have been found in Allenhurst and Loch Arbour on the central New Jersey shore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Asbury Park Press.

"We are doing a surface sweep of beach with metal detectors to identify anything out there and remove it immediately," said Corps spokesman Chris Gardner.

The discovery marks the first time munition parts have ended up on the beach since the corps added a screen process to its sand dredging projects in 2007. That was when more than 1,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance were found in Surf City after a beach replenishment project.

Gardner said the boosters are part of the projectiles fired by howitzers, but are not bombs. While the boosters are not armed, Gardner told The Associated Press they may contain aged explosives and should not be handled by the public.

"We don't want to overplay the risk, but we don't want to underplay it either,'' Gardner said. "They are not a bomb, but they are not a toy. These are not something to be taken home as an interesting find.''

"I live a couple of houses away. I'll be watchful of it," said Jim Morrisey.

The beach is not too far from the former Fort Monmouth Army Base.

"I've been here my whole life. Stuff has been washing up, so it doesn't surprise me," said Gene Boccia, of Allenhurst.

"They will be finding WWII stuff too I'm sure," said Pete Stamp, of Ocean Township.

During the replenishment project, sand is screened as it is pulled from the ocean, then undergoes finer screening as it is piped onto the beach, Gardner said. But boosters, which are made of brass and are lighter than other munition parts, passed through a hole designed to release shells.

The screening baskets have since been modified, he said. But crews now need to sift through about 350,000 cubic yards of sand placed on the beaches since the replenishment project started.

The Corps hopes to have them removed by Memorial Day weekend. Project managers said deeper screenings and digging for munitions will have to be completed later in the summer.

The entire sand replenishment project is expected to be completed in July.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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