WWII-era ammunition found during Siesta Key beach restoration

Kimberly Kuizon reports

- Turtle Beach's makeover came with a $21-million price tag, but it could cost an extra $600,000 to finish the beach beautification.

"It is called an unforeseen condition, which results in the project halting until you figure out how to proceed," said Paul Semenec of Sarasota County's Capital Projects.

Semenec said an unexpected find came out of the sand during a March beach restoration project.  Crews were just three days into the project when the contractor called to say he found ammunition in the sand. They decided to dredge in another area, but that resulted in even more ammunition being pulled out.

Crews installed screen grates into the dredge intake. That way any ammunition that would have been pumped onto shore, wasn't. It took the project 11 extra days to wrap up, but more time equals money.

The county expects to pay the additional $600,000 with tourism tax dollars.

"This was done as a safety precaution; safety for the dredge crews as well as the general public, because we didn't know what we were going to pull up," he said.

The contractor found 150 World War II-era bullets and spent shell casings. They were disposed of by a specialty crew. The sand was being pumped from seven to 10 lays off shore. It would be nearly impossible for anyone without a boat to stumble upon the find.

This isn't the first time WWII ammunition has been found in the area. Last year, a flash bomb was found off of St. Pete Beach. In September, another flash bomb was detonated off Anna Maria Island.

"We're guessing that training took place off-shore in the gulf," said Semenec.

This was a first for Siesta Key. Now the county will keep this year's find in mind during its future projects.

"We didn't expect them to occur in this project," he said.

Editor's note: In the original version of this report, Semenec stated that dredging was initially stopped by the discovery of the ammunition. He later stated that was not the case. This version has been updated.

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