The massive waves that pounded California’s coast last week washed ashore trash, driftwood and something unexpected: a very old bomb, rusted over and covered with debris.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office bomb squad was called out to inspect the “inert military ordnance,” which had been found at Pajaro Dunes, about 20 miles southeast of the city of Santa Cruz, at about 2 p.m. on Sunday, Ashley Keehn, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office, said in an email.
The officers determined that the bomb was inert using X-rays, she said, adding that it was believed to be a military “practice bomb” from the 1960s. Such bombs were often filled with water or sand and used for target practice.
Because of its size and its degraded condition, personnel from the nearby Travis Air Force Base were called in to remove the bomb, she said. Representatives for the base were not immediately available to comment.
“This ordnance washing up on shore goes to show the intensity of the high surf we saw in Santa Cruz County this past week,” Ms. Keehn said.
She added that it was not unusual for military weaponry and equipment to wash up on Santa Cruz’s shores.
Researchers have estimated that millions of pounds of unused bombs were dumped into the ocean off the coasts of several American states between the 1940s to 1970s.
Experts have long expressed fears that these bombs could pose serious risks by getting caught in fishermen’s nets, washing ashore or leeching chemicals and toxins into the water.