What’s the last thing that you want to see when you go to the beach? Perhaps someone in a skimpy bathing suit that probably shouldn’t be in one? How about a container that reads “CAUTION RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL.” That would rank pretty high up there, it seems.


That was the case in Wisconsin recently when someone that was walking along the beach of the Poplar River looked down and noticed a metal container that was about the size of a larger cell phone. It was at that time that the witness contacted the local police, and even more units were brought in to investigate.


The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was the first one on the scene, and they brought in the Superior Fire Department, who had a hazardous materials squad investigate the container. After that, the United States Coast Guard, the EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (and Natural Resources) were also brought in. It was a tandem effort to investigate a small container that some feared was very dangerous.

After all of the crews got done investigating the container, they found that there was no actual radioactive material emanating from the container. There is still another question, though, and that’s where the container came from. Unfortunately, the officials were not able to figure that out during their investigation.


Though it turned out to just be a false alarm, responders were quick to thank the witness that made the first call. Commander Erin Williams of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit said “Our swift mobilization of local, state and federal resources for this response reinforced our unified effort to address potential threats to public safety.” It was an especially large concern as the Poplar River is also near the Tall Ships Duluth festival, which is an annual event with a lot of visitors, according to Williams.


Williams would go on to say that anyone else that sees anything similar should do the same as the original witness. This falls in line with the “See Something, Say Something” campaign that has been brought forth by the Department of Homeland Security. In response to the incoming festival and the fact that one container was already found, a command post to ensure landside safety has been established near the spot where the container was discovered.


As for the container, it won’t be scaring anymore walkers that make their way along the beach. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has made sure that the container was disposed of properly, even though it didn’t pose a threat. Hopefully, this will be the only scare that happens during the festival.