The U.S. Navy announced this week that in September it will be working on clearing unexploded explosives on Noman’s Land, a small island off Chilmark.
The Navy, in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and state and federal environmental regulatory agencies, will work on identifying and removing military ordnances that have been exposed since the last clean-up effort in 2008, according to a press release.
The work will entail a comprehensive search of the island, and any items identified as dangerous will be diffused by detonating any remaining explosive charges. The public is advised that explosions may be heard. Demolition operations are expected to take place on Fridays.
According to the Navy, this is part of their long-term monitoring of Noman’s.
The 628-acre island located about three miles off the Vineyard’s southwestern shore has a long and colorful history. Since the early 1700s it has been part of Chilmark. During the 18th and 19th centuries, seasonal fishermen and farmers lived on the island, and Noman’s came to have two villages, Crow Town and Jimmy Town, as well as a boarding house, a church, a school and a store. During Prohibition, it became a refuge for rum runners.
In the 1940s, the Navy leased the island, building an airfield there that was used for bombing training during World War II. The island continued to be used as a bombing range until 1996.
Because unexploded ordnance poses a safety risk, the island is closed to the public. The Navy agreed, as part of the transfer to the fish and wildlife service, to continue efforts to remove the unexploded ordnance.