U.S. Senate OKs $470M for Hawaii
The defense spending includes a survey of chemical ordnance dump sites off Oahu
The U.S. Senate has approved nearly a half-billion dollars in defense related spending for Hawaii, including $3 million to assess the environmental effects of chemical weapons dumped off Hawaii's shores in the 1940s.
House and Senate leaders will approve final amounts after comparing their respective versions of the defense appropriations bill.
The legislation approved on Friday includes some $470 million for Hawaii defense-related spending, for the fiscal year starting next month.
The breakdown of Senate-approved Hawaii spending was announced in a news release from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
Funds for the chemical weapons assessment come after Hawaii members of Congress raised concerns. The Daily Press in Newport News, Va., first reported last year that the military dumped chemical munitions in at least 26 locations off the coasts of 11 states -- including Hawaii -- over several decades.
The Army later said it identified at least two locations where 2,600 tons of mustard, cyanogen chloride, hydrogen cyanide and lewisite were dumped off Oahu between 1944 and 1946.
One site is about 10 miles off Pearl Harbor in about 1,200 feet of water. Another is about 10 miles off the Waianae Coast in about 6,000 feet of water.
The Army approached Inouye and suggested that the federal government set aside funds to study the dumped weapons, said Mike Yuen, the senator's spokesman.
The University of Hawaii at Manoa and Hawaii businesses would be contracted to carry out the assessment.
Army officials have said the World War II era munitions did not threaten the health of Hawaii residents.
The Department of Defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2007 also includes $25 million to help local communities acquire conservation easements around military bases and ranges like Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island.
Another $25 million dollars is set aside for the Maui Space Surveillance System, which houses the U.S. military's largest telescope.
» $18.5 million to buy technology to train troops flying C-17 cargo jets out of Hickam Air Force Base.
» $5.5 million to support construction projects at public schools with large numbers of military dependents.
» $2.5 million to detect and map unexploded ordnance on Big Island land owned by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that the military used to use. Plans call for eventually clearing the munitions from the land.
» $2 million to keep brown tree snakes off military transport planes bound for Hawaii.