Cape Hatteras expands closed beach due to petroleum smell & sheen on ocean

BUXTON, N.C. (WITN) – The closure of a beach on the Outer Banks has been expanded to now include a beach access, while Dare County is telling people nearby with private wells to get the water checked.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Sunday closed the Buxton Beach Access along with an additional stretch of beach, because of petroleum odors and sheen on the ocean water.

Back on September 1st, the beach adjacent to the former site used by the Navy and Coast Guard was closed after beach erosion from Tropical Storm Idalia and Hurricane Lee exposed potentially hazardous infrastructure from the old bases. Last month, seashore staff noticed a very strong smell of petroleum products and multiple surfers said their wetsuits and hair smelled like fuel. The sheen on the water was also seen near the beach access.

The seashore says 3/10th of a mile stretch of the beach is now closed. It starts at the southernmost beachfront home in Buxton to the first jetty.

Cape Hatteras says it is planning to meet with both the Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers about the problem.

The Navy operated an undersea surveillance station at Cape Hatteras from 1956 to 1982. From 1984 through 2010, the facilities were used as Coast Guard Station Cape Hatteras.

Dare County today is recommending those in the area that use well water to get the well water sampled to make sure it does not contain contaminants. You can call the county at 252-475-5088 to schedule a sampling.