11:00am Wednesday 4th June 2014
A SPECIALIST Navy team will begin scouring Shoebury East Beach today for unexploded bombs in a bid to get the beauty spot reopened to the public.
The military will begin a two-day search of the beach, which has been closed since live mortar and artillery shells were found at the end of April, and the surrounding MoD land.
The bomb squad will destroy any explosives found and provide Southend Council with an assessment of the danger to the public, so it can decide whether to reopen the area.
The council first closed the beach, which it licences from the MoD as a public beach, on May 1 after 15 artillery ormortar shells and a dozen machine guns were found there in just 13 days.
In a joint statement, the council and MoD said: “A specialist explosive ordnance disposal team from the Royal Navy Southern Diving Group will investigate a number of sample areas across the licensed public area of East Beach, along with a buffer zone into the surrounding MoD-managed area.
“The work will involve excavation of metallic items, which were identified during a previous geophysical survey as potential ordnance, but which may not necessarily indicate the presence of live munitions.
“Any ordnance found will be made safe and disposed of by the explosive ordnance disposal team.
“Following the work, the MoD’s assessment of the risk from any ordnance will be provided to the council, which will use the information to inform its decision on whether, and at what stage, the beach can be reopened.”
However, despite the work the closure could remain for some time as a follow-up meeting between the MoD and council won’t take place until the middle of the month.
The council is already considering a number of measures, including reviewing signs in the area, to prepare for re-opening the beach.
The statement continued: “Local people and businesses should be assured that both the MoD and the council continue to prioritise this work in recognition of the importance of East Beach to residents, visitors and businesses.”
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