Waianae demands cleanup of munitions
The neighborhood board tells the Army to present a plan and hold a town meeting
The Waianae Neighborhood Board has told the Army that it wants an "immediate cleanup of all munitions," including chemical weapons, that are in the waters off the Leeward Coast.
The board, in a two-page letter signed Thursday by chairwoman Patty Teruya, demanded that Lt. Gen. John Brown, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, present by June 1 "a coherent strategy and plan for cleaning up the munitions and tangible responses to the legitimate concerns this community has voiced on an array of venues over the past 18 months."
The Waianae board also told Brown that it wants the Army to conduct a town hall meeting within the next 30 days.
Sara Fishburne, Army spokeswoman, said that Ted Davis, Army deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health, intends to convene a forum within the next month with all relevant parties, including representatives of the Waianae community, to review a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report. Last month the Army released the results of a two-week study done in June by NOAA, the University of Hawaii, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Army that said there was no immediate danger to the public.
More than a dozen previously undetected munition clusters were found during a sonar survey and sea-floor mapping. Nine were found near the shoreline in shallow waters ranging from 24 to 60 feet in depth. Five other clusters were found in deeper waters near the area where the Army Corps of Engineers discovered most of the munitions five years ago.
During that survey, conducted in 2000 by the Army Corps of Engineers, more than 2,000 conventional or nonchemical munitions were identified.
But Leeward residents were not impressed by the latest survey, and say the fish caught there shouldn't be eaten.
The board's letter says that at its proposed town hall meeting it wants the Army to provide the experts who:
» conducted analysis and testing of marine life and ocean waters, since the board does not believe the test results;
» can brief the community on the Army's plan to remove munitions from the ocean, including a specific timetable and where and how the munitions will be destroyed;
» can talk about the Army's plan to produce and distribute educational materials for schoolchildren to warn them of dangers posed by munitions and what to do if they find them.