Exact site of offshore arms unclear, Case says
U.S. REP. Ed Case said the Army told him yesterday that it did not know whether any of the weapons it dumped in waters off Hawaii decades ago were left near the shoreline.
Case said the deputy assistant Army secretary in charge of environmental issues told him the service would search its records to find out. Case said he asked the Army to locate and properly dispose of the weapons.
"I impressed on (him) on how important I felt it was to immediately complete the identification of potential sites in Hawaii," Case said by telephone from Washington, D.C.
Case (D, Rural Oahu-Neighbor Islands) said a 2001 study of Army records showed the service disposed of chemical weapons in 73 sites around the world from World War I to the early 1970s -- including three places off Hawaii.
The Army report said some materials were deposited somewhere off Pearl Harbor and that others were dumped five miles off Oahu in 1944.
"The specific concern, immediate concern, is the nearshore environment -- where people swim, where they anchor their boats, where they go about life. And that we don't know," Case said.
The Daily Press in Newport News, Va., reported earlier this month that the Army dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard-gas agents into the ocean, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets. The newspaper said the chemical weapons were dumped in at least 26 locations off the coast of 11 states, including Hawaii.