Monday, May 11, 1998

Kahoolawe cleanup
plan not enough

That's a state commission's
view of a Navy plan to clear ordnance
from the island

By Gary Kubota


WAILUKU -- The chairman of the state Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission isn't satisfied with a Navy proposal to clear 38 percent of Kahoolawe of ordnance left after more than 50 years of military use.

"There's got to be more," said Chairman Dr. Emmett Aluli.

As the commission begins to hold public hearings today about the cleanup plan, it is hoping the Navy is able to find a way to reach the commission's goal of clearing the surface of the entire island.

The commission also wants to clear more than one-third of the island's subsurface.

The Navy estimates 11,000 of Kahoolawe's 28,800 acres can be cleared for the $400 million authorized by Congress until the year 2003.

For many, the island, where a handful of Hawaiians gathered to protest the bombing in the mid-1970s, has become a symbol of the renaissance of native culture and political power.

The island was turned over to the state in 1994.

Commissioners have been working with the Navy to look at new technology available for clearing unexploded ordnance.

On Thursday, Aluli and commission Executive Director Keoni Fairbanks were at a forum with the Navy in Los Angeles to examine the latest in technology for clearing ordnance.

Fairbanks said the demand for such technology has increased because of many military base closings in the United States.

Fairbanks said one of the problems in clearing land of ordnance is the difficulty of determining if a piece of metal in the ground is unexploded ordnance or a tin can.

He said about 70 percent of the time, the metal turns out to be something other than unexploded ordnance.

He's optimistic that new technology will improve the commission's ability to clear the island.

Aluli said the Navy usually works alone on projects and has had to adapt a different routine with the commission.

"They don't know how to deal with outside government clients," he said. "We're coming closer. I'm proud of that."


Cleanup hearings

The following is a schedule of public meetings about the proposed cleanup plan for Kahoolawe. The meetings start at 7 p.m.:
Bullet Today: Hale Halawai, Kailua-Kona
Bullet Tomorrow: UH-Hilo Campus Center, Room 306, Hilo
Bullet Wednesday: Kauai Community College Dining Room, Lihue
Bullet Thursday: Mitchell Pauole Community Center, Kaunakakai
Bullet May 18: Lanai Public School and Library, Lanai City
Bullet May 19: Wailuku Community Center, Wailuku
Bullet May 20: State Capitol Auditorium, Honolulu

For more information and the Navy proposal, see:
bullet Web:

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