Mystery tank washes up on South Carolina beach. So where did it come from?

Burkes Beach at Hilton Head Island, where a mysterious metal tank washed ashore this week. The Coast Guard determined that it is not hazardous.


By JAY KARR | The Island Packet (Hilton Head Island, S.C.) | Published: June 29, 2018

HILTON HEAD, S.C. (Tribune News Service) — A large metal tank that recently washed up on Hilton Head Island's Burkes Beach is drawing the attention of beachgoers and the Coast Guard, which sent a team Thursday to determine whether it is hazardous.

"There's no oil or hazmat associated with it," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Michael Long, a pollution responder out of Charleston, after he examined the object on Thursday afternoon.

In fact, he said, it was empty.

That still left the question of what it is and who it belongs to.

The new arrival is rust-covered and drum-shaped, and on Thursday morning, it was resting on its side near the high tide line. It's about 4 feet high and has two short pipes protruding from its top.

Little else is known about it. It apparently drifted ashore early Wednesday, according to Jerry Staub, a supervisor with Shore Beach Services.

Jenny Kurylo, a vacationer from Cleveland who has been on the island since Saturday, said she first came across it during her Wednesday morning beach walk.

On Thursday, she said the tank had a 10-foot length of rope attached that has since been removed.

"It was frayed at one end," she said. "It was like a ship's rope."

Staub said lifeguards spotted the object at the water's edge on Wednesday and removed what Kurylo described as a rope — but which was actually a length of heavy gauge steel cable. They also braced the tank with a log to keep it in place.

"We just did it to prevent some knucklehead from trying to roll it back in the water," he said, adding that he planned to have it pulled farther from the water later Thursday to prevent it from washing back out to sea with the tide.

Though the object bears little resemblance to the lost navigation buoy that became a beachfront sensation and selfie magnet after it washed up on South Forest Beach in September after Tropical Storm Irma, Staub thinks it might also be a type of buoy, perhaps a leftover piece of equipment from a recent beach nourishment or dredging project.

"It sort of looks like an industrial buoy," he said.

Long concurred, saying it looked like a buoy used in construction.

"At this point, nobody's claiming it," he added.

An effort to reach Town of Hilton Head Island officials for comment was unsuccessful.

David Lucas of the state's Department of Natural Resources said the department was unaware of the tank's presence. He said the department would only become involved if it became a navigational hazard.

Though containing no fuel or other contaminants, Petty Officer Eric Rhodes of the Coast Guard Command Center in Charleston suggested that people stay away from it.

"I wouldn't recommend that any one mess with a rusty drum," he said.

©2018 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.)
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