Cape Hatteras National Seashore temporarily expands beach closure at Buxton Beach Access due to petroleum odors and sheen on water

A recent photo showing exposed infrastructure on the beach adjacent to the Buxton Beach Access. (NPS)

Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore) expanded the size of a previously closed beach area Sunday afternoon in Buxton, North Carolina. The expansion closes the Buxton Beach Access, located at the end of Old Lighthouse Road, and an additional stretch of beach, due to reports of petroleum odors and sheen on the ocean water. The odors and sheen were observed by Seashore staff near a site formerly used by the Navy and Coast Guard.

Observations were reported to the National Response Center this morning and the Coast Guard’s Sector North Carolina has responded and is working with the Seashore to monitor the situation.

Approximately two-tenths of a mile of beach in front of the formerly used defense site has been closed since Sept. 1, 2023. Today’s expansion of the closure results in a closed section of beach approximately three-tenths of a mile long, starting at the southernmost beachfront home in the village of Buxton and ending at the first (southernmost) jetty.

The Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers have been notified about the recent observations and the Seashore will be meeting with both agencies.

The Seashore will provide updated public information in the coming days.

Historical information about the former military site is located at Recent and historical photos of the site can be found in the Seashore’s Buxton Beach Access photo album.