Tests set to explore ways of removing sea ordnance
The Army plans to undertake a $3 million demonstration project this summer to determine the best way to remove old explosive rounds that were dumped in the shallow waters near Pokai Bay off the Waianae Coast.
"Some of the munitions may be removed and destroyed on land," said Tad Davis, deputy assistant Army secretary for environment, safety and occupational health. "Others may have to be destroyed in the water."
The Army will spend another $1 million to study the long-term health effects this unexploded ordnance might have had on the shellfish and limu that inhabit the area known as Ordnance Reef.
Davis will brief members of the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board at a special meeting beginning at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Waianae District Park.
This will be his third appearance before the Leeward Oahu board since more than 2,000 conventional weapons were discovered in the waters off the Waianae Coast. The term conventional refers to munitions that are not nuclear, biological or chemical.
Many of the discarded weapons can be found in depths from 40 to 120 feet, which could pose a danger to divers, Davis told reporters.
In 2006 a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study found no immediate health dangers to the public in the sediment and fish found in the area, but some Waianae residents were not convinced.
During a two-week period, scientists combed a 5-square-mile area near Pokai Bay using sophisticated sea-floor mapping and imaging equipment. More than a dozen previously undetected munition clusters were found during NOAA's sonar survey and sea-floor mapping. NOAA concluded that there was little contamination from the conventional munitions found there.
But area residents, Davis said yesterday, want a more thorough study which would take into consideration the effects of the tides and changes in the ocean over a period longer than two weeks.
The second study will try to determine the damage that will be done to the reefs in the area if the munitions have to be blown up in place. Many of the munitions have been in the water so long that they have been become part of the reef.