Warning issued after explosive military rounds found on Washington beaches

GRAYS HARBOR, Wash. -- Law enforcement officers have issued a warning after finding highly explosive anti-aircraft rounds on a few Washington beaches.

The Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Office reported receiving "several reports" of 20-millimeter anti-aircraft rounds on beaches north of Pacific Beach. The rounds resemble large rifle ammunition and are encased in black rock or sludge.

Grays Harbor County Chief Criminal Deputy Brad Johansson said they were notified over the weekend about a citizen that found four to six shells.

The rounds are live, Johansson said, and are dangerous because of their explosive tip. They can explode if dropped hard or if heated, he said.

After posting on Facebook about the rounds, the sheriff's office learned they've likely been showing up for years, and some people may be collecting them as keepsakes during a beach trip. Johansson even heard reports of people finding them in crab pots off the coast.

He believed the rounds were either dumped off a military ship during WWII or buried by the military on a county beach.  He said given the number of reports, it's likely hundred of shells are still around.

"I think this is something we're going to be seeing for quite a while," Johansson said.

Anyone who locates a round should leave it alone, mark its location and call the Grays Harbor County Dispatch at 360-533-8765.