Explosive found at South Ferry landing is detonated by cops

FILE PHOTO | This map shows both the Shelter Island and North Haven landings used by South Ferry. On the bottom is the North Haven landing and the beach to the west where Suffolk County Emergency Services officers detonated a small explosive device Monday.

Members of the Suffolk County Emergency Services detonated a small explosive  yesterday afternoon west of the South Ferry landing in North Haven.

Known as a Tovex stick, typically used in collapsing rock at jetties, the explosive was found on the beach shortly after 3:30 p.m.

“It’s nothing that would have exploded without being detonated,” South Ferry President Cliff Clark said.

The water-gel explosive is typically used rather than dynamite because it’s less toxic and is safer to transport and store.

Mr. Clark said he was told by an county police official Sunday that it might have been part of a package of sticks used to collapse rocks at a jetty in the Peconic Bay area. It likely floated and landed in debris on the beach at North Haven. Ferry staff are trained to clear such debris to avoid it floating out and impeding boat traffic. That’s what Captain John Westervelt was doing when he spied the explosive that was about 2 inches in diameter and resembled dynamite.

Mr. Clark called Shelter Island Police who in turn brought in the county’s bomb squad. Officers dug a deep hole in the sand and buried the device before detonating it, Mr. Clark said.

Officials told Mr. Clark that anyone who finds such an item should call police so the device can be properly detonated. Ferry traffic had to be stopped briefly, but there was no indication that the Tovex stick was meant to damage anything other than the purpose for which it’s designed, Mr. Clark was told.

Given the amount of work that occurs around Shelter Island, it’s plausible it could have floated free from a site where it was being professionally used, he said.

“Everybody did what they’re trained to do,” Mr. Clark said.