O, The Humanity!

It’s “official”: the cause of mid-July’s beach blast at Salty Brine State Park was as basic as Element Number One: hydrogen.

A mysterious blast on a Rhode Island beach likely was caused by the combustion of hydrogen gas that had built up because of a corroded copper cable under the sand, investigators announced Friday.  Scientists at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography [concluded] the hydrogen had been released by the corrosion of an abandoned copper cable that previously was used by the U.S. Coast Guard.

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URI’s Arthur Spivack said scientists tested more than 300 samples of [Salty Brine] sand last week and found some pockets that had about 10,000 times the expected level of hydrogen.  “Hydrogen combustion is about the simplest chemical reaction there is.  All you need is hydrogen and oxygen in the right mixture and it can combust,” he said. “Everything we observed is consistent with hydrogen combustion.”

Rhode Island officials believe Salty Brine is the only state beach with Coast Guard cables running underneath the sand.  The Coast Guard is trying to determine if there are cables under any other beaches in Rhode Island and how many, said a Coast Guard spokeswoman.

OK, so the Coast Guard is (sort of) taking the rap for this one, but they’re basically pleading guilty to a lesser charge.  No one on active duty is admitting to unauthorized deployment of a sonic cannon, but they’re willing to point the finger at whatever nameless Coast Guard officials (now long retired) left old communication cables to rot under Salty Brine Beach.

Oh well –better than nothing. It’s the most you can hope for.  All’s well that ends well.  But what about all those abandoned copper cables under the beach at Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area?  I guess we should be hearing from them any day now …

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