DHHS, NPS issue precautionary public health advisory – OBX Today

DHHS, NPS issue precautionary public health advisory - OBX Today

The Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) in conjunction with North Carolina DHHS, Division of Public Health and Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) are issuing a public health advisory for the Seashore’s Buxton Beach Access, due to impacts from petroleum contaminated soils likely exposed by beach erosion near the former site of Naval Facility Cape Hatteras and Coast Guard Group Cape Hatteras in Buxton, from approximately 46285 Old Lighthouse Road, to and including the first jetty.

Since Sept. 1, 2023, when a precautionary public health advisory was issued by the Dare County DHHS, North Carolina DHHS, Division of Public Health, the Seashore and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), multiple soil samples have been taken by the Corps, Coast Guard and Seashore. The testing of the samples indicated the soil contained weathered light fuel oil, a small amount of lubricating oil, petroleum hydrocarbons, and non-petroleum contamination. The beach in this area has remained closed since the issuance of the precautionary public health advisory, and on-site mitigation work has not started.

Until the petroleum contaminated soils are mitigated, and the area is declared safe, environmental and public health officials recommend:

  • Avoid swimming, wading or fishing in this area in Buxton, from approximately 46285 Old Lighthouse Road, to and including, the first jetty until further notice. Reports of varying mild to moderate symptoms including headache, nausea and skin irritation have been shared by individuals after participation in recreational water activities in the impacted area.
  • If skin comes in contact with contaminated sediment or water, thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water.

In addition to the potential health risks related to petroleum contamination, there are a number of remnants of what is believed to be Navy and Coast Guard infrastructure, including concrete bunkers and building foundations that may pose hazards to swimmers, surfers and beach goers.

If you live in or near the impacted area and have a private drinking well, it is recommended that you have the well water sampled to ensure it does not contain contaminants. If the well is a drinking water well, please contact Dare County DHHS at 252.475.5088 to schedule sampling.

If you notice any plumes, sheens, or fish kills in this area, avoid coming into contact with these waters and report these conditions by calling the EPA/National Response Center at 800.424.8802.