A 4-foot-long practice round for a 14-inch naval gun was found off Sandy Hook, N.J., this week as part of a beach replenishment project in nearby Monmouth Beach, NBC 4 New York has learned.
The Army Corps of Engineers said the shell was used for target practice either during or shortly after World War II, and had no explosives in its dummy warhead.
Live explosives have been found before in past beach projects, including Surf City in 2006, and in 1994 at Monmouth Beach.
Both times, the Army Corps devised sophisticated sieve or filtering systems to comb the sand and that was in place this time, according to Col. Paul Owens.
"Pretty confident that there is no danger to the public," Owens said.
This particular shell, weighing about 1,500 pounds, was detected stuck in a ship's dredging apparatus and was too big to actually be pumped onshore, Owens said.
But he admitted that smaller ordnance is still likely out in the ocean all up and down the Jersey shore.
"There's a lot of ordnance off our coast that we don't know what the status of it is," said Cindy Zipf of Clean Ocean Action, an organization begun years ago to sound an alarm about ocean dumping.
What is not known is whether Hurricane Sandy disturbed the ocean floor enough to uncover buried explosives, eventually allowing them to be pushed ashore.
"We probably don't know half of what's out there," said Rich Lee of the Surfers' Environmental Alliance.