Buxton Beach in May. CHNS photo.

The Buxton Civic Association (BCA) will hold its monthly public meeting on Thursday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the old Buxton Volunteer Fire Department Building next to Burrus Field.

The public meeting is an opportunity for the community to learn about recent updates and developments for the ongoing environmental and public safety issues at Buxton Beach, and the steps the BCA is taking to facilitate the remediation of the shoreline.

“There’s much to share and lots happening, [so] come out and stay informed,” stated the BCA in an online update. “We will continue to settle for nothing but a full cleanup effort consisting of the full removal of contaminated soil and structures and the formation of a [Restoration Advisory Board].”

View of Buxton Beach and the Navy’s Terminal Building and Driftwood Club, possibly taken in 1970 or 1971. CHNS photo.

A three-tenths-of-a-mile section of Buxton Beach has been closed since September 2023 after two offshore hurricanes brushed the Outer Banks, exposing abandoned infrastructure from the site’s former military base, as well as occasional petroleum smells.

The consensus by stakeholders is that there are two agencies – the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard – who are responsible for cleaning up the area. The petroleum smells and petroleum-contaminated soils (PCS) fall under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ FUDS program, however, there is some debate as to which agency will address the remaining Navy infrastructure and other debris on the beach.

Buxton Beach gained new attention in February 2024 after surfers in the area reported petroleum sheens on the water’s surface, and the BCA was formed in April to provide a centralized, community response to these environmental and public health issues.

At Thursday’s meeting, the BCA will provide updates on several corresponding initiatives that are in process to remediate this small but problematic section of the Buxton shoreline.

One of the most recent developments is an imminent letter to Congress, (and specifically the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment), that is being spearheaded by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). The letter requests immediate action at Buxton Beach, and is co-signed by multiple local, regional, and national organizations, which includes the BCA.

BCA Board members from left to right: Jason Hall, Brian Harris, Heather Jennette, Wendi Munden

Another promising development is a joint effort by the National Park Service and the BCA to conduct independent testing at the Buxton Beach site for contaminants.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has extracted a handful of soil samples for testing in the past six months, as outlined in its May 2024 Summary Report of Findings, but many believe that more extensive testing is required to locate the source(s) of the petroleum problem.

Additional items on the BCA’s meeting agenda include the organization’s recent membership in the North Carolina Beaches, Inlets and Waterways Association (NCBIWA), the finalization of the BCA’s bylaws, and other local efforts to gain community-wide support, (like installing donation boxes throughout the island.)

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend this meeting, and BCA board members are hoping that the local community will continue to stay involved in the ongoing efforts to fix Buxton Beach.

“We are just the community’s voice for Buxton,” said Brian Harris, BCA Board Member, in an earlier interview. “Everybody cares about this… [and] we’re going to explore every single option and figure something out, because ultimately, this has to be done.”

 For more information on Buxton Beach, and how to get involved

  • The Buxton Civic Association meets the first Thursday of every month at the old Buxton Volunteer Fire Department building beside Burrus Field. The next meeting is June 6 at 6:30 p.m. and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend.
  • Developing info from the Buxton Civic Association (BCA) can be accessed via the organization’s new website at Buxtoncivic.com or through the BCA’s official Facebook page.
  • The public can also join the ongoing email and letter-writing campaign, which was launched in mid-March by Buxton community members.
  • Visitors who encounter a fuel smell or fuel sheens while visiting the Buxton shoreline near Old Lighthouse Road should call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to report the encounter. Include the date, time, location, and basic details of what was seen or smelled, and do not call if you have not experienced the issue first-hand, or have not been physically affected.
  • Remember that while the environmental issues at Buxton Beach are considered to be a public safety and environmental hazard, just three-tenths of a mile of the shoreline is closed, out of 75 miles of National Seashore. In short, the public can still visit and enjoy Buxton, and Hatteras Island in general. The primary concern is that this issue needs to be addressed now, before it potentially becomes a larger problem.
Buxton Beach Map. CHNS photo.

The post Buxton Civic Association will hold public meeting on June 6 to discuss recent Buxton Beach developments appeared first on Island Free Press.

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