Uranium traced to Army training in 1960s
Aerial surveys last week of the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area have confirmed the presence of depleted uranium used during Army training with a classified weapon during the 1960s, Army officials said yesterday.
More tests and monitoring are planned, they said.
The Army said it does not currently use depleted uranium in training ammunition. There is no public access to the suspected PTA range area.
The depleted uranium was used in a classified weapons system, the Davy Crockett recoilless gun, which was produced from 1960 to 1968.
In August 2005 a contractor discovered munitions remains that contained depleted uranium while clearing a range at Schofield Barracks. The Army said then the recovered items had low-level radioactivity and did not pose a health threat.
Cabrera Services conducted an aerial survey at PTA in 2005 to determine if the Davy Crockett was fired then and if depleted uranium was present.
The Army said a similar aerial survey conducted Aug. 13 and last Tuesday at the impact area at the Makua Military Reservation on Oahu was "inconclusive because the team could not see the ground due to heavy vegetation in the suspected impact area."
Soil samples were taken both from Makua and PTA and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Depleted uranium, a byproduct of radioactive enriched uranium, has been used by the U.S. military in armor-piercing munitions. Some researchers suspect exposure to depleted uranium, or DU, might have caused chronic fatigue and other symptoms in veterans of the first Gulf War, but there is no conclusive evidence it has.
Meanwhile, the Army said tests of air samples taken July 30-Aug. 2 at an area where fire was used to clear more than 1,000 acres of a training range showed no health hazard from the burn and smoke.
Army officials said yesterday they will work with the state and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to survey training ranges at Schofield Barracks, Makua and Pohakuloa.