Studies, cleanup pitched for seabed munitions
An Army representative says proposals to deal with military ordnance found offshore of Waianae range from more studies to cleanup of nearshore waters.
Tad Davis, the Army's deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health, emphasized the need for more input before any plan is finalized.
"We've got a lot of great momentum," Davis told about 50 attendees of a Wednesday night special meeting of the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board. He added that it is important to keep proceeding, which includes getting federal funding for more studies and any cleanup work.
A chemical munitions dump site lies about 10 miles out from Waianae Boat Harbor at depths of 10,000 to 12,000 feet. A sonar survey of the area found a large concentration of conventional ordnance in a 10-square-mile area dubbed Ordnance Reef. Some clusters were found in shallower waters ranging in depth from 24 to 60 feet.
No explosive pellets, which had been washing ashore on Maili Beach and first reported to the Army in March, have been found since May. The military is still trying to determine the source of the approximately inch-long cylindrical grains about one-fourth to three-eighths of an inch in diameter. They are likely Navy World War II munitions and also have been found in deeper waters.
Military, state and county officials met with community representatives earlier Wednesday to discuss proposals on how to deal with the munitions. The proposals were presented to the public at Wednesday night's meeting at Waianae District Park. Residents will have about three months to review and comment on the proposals.
The proposals include more studies on the possible effects the munitions have on limu, invertebrates and water quality.
Another proposal is the removal of munitions from nearshore waters up to 60 feet deep and possibly to 120 feet deep.
Davis said the Army is working with the Hawaii congressional delegation to obtain funding for the studies and possible ordnance removal.
Some community members called for a complete removal of the dumped ordnance, which the Army has said would be costly and dangerous.
"I don't believe it's appropriate to leave the ordnance," said James Manaku, who said he was concerned for the safety of his children and grandchildren.
Davis said one finding of a corrosion study that has not yet been released revealed corrosion levels at greater depths were slower and could take as much as 500 years.
A survey last year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said there was no immediate danger to the public from nonchemical munitions found near the shoreline to about a mile out.
The Army is asking for the public's help in reporting the pellets. Anyone with information is asked to call Charles Donaldson at 235-2662, Michael Mullen at 438-0468 or Chuck Streck at 438-6934.