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Posts Tagged ‘contamination’

Mahalo again to Alan McNarie for excellent investigative piece on Depleted Uranium (DU). Schofield Barracks (O’ahu) and Pohakuloa Training Area (Hawai’i Island) are main areas where DU is a concern, but the Army has also admitted that there may be DU at Makua (O’ahu).

According to a high Army official, the Army never intended to remove depleted uranium ammunition remnants from Pohakuloa Training Area and Shofield Barracks, and it has no plans to do so for as long as the firing ranges at those facilities are still in use.

See the full article in the Big Island Weekly at: http://bigislandweekly.com/articles/2010/06/30/read/news/news02.txt

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From Marti:Lualualei along the Waianae Coast

The Navy has been on the hot seat lately for the damage it has caused in Hawaii nei.  In central and western Oahu, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state got a commitment from the Navy to clean up any remaining contamination at two Superfund sites – one in Lualualei near the naval munitions storage area and the other in Wahiawa. While preliminary investigations have indicated that no immediate threats currently exist at the sites, soil contaminants at the sites include PCBs, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics and metals. PCBs can cause cancer in animals and adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems in humans.

“Our agreement with the Navy and the state finalizes the process that the Navy will follow to complete the investigation and clean up of any remaining chemical contamination at both sites.” said Keith Takata, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Superfund Division.

The agreement with the Navy is open to public comment.  Get your say in now by visiting: www.epa.gov/region09/NavalComputer

Check out the full article at The Hawaii Independent: http://www.thehawaiiindependent.com/hawaii/oahu/2009/04/02/epa-us-navy-agrees-to-clean-wahiawa-lualualei-superfund-sites/

Broken coral reef from the USS Port RoyalAnd, on the South shore of Oahu, controversy is brewing as the state attempts to hold the Navy financially responsible for the carnage of coral from the USS Port Royal grounding in February 2009.  Ten acres of ancient coral was destroyed!  Chunks as large as cars are still bouncing around on the ocean floor causing further damage.

“There is a critical need for the U.S. Navy to mitigate the damage which has occurred, which continues to occur, and which will get worse with the upcoming south summer swell,” said Laura H. Thielen, chairwoman of the DLNR, in the letter.

“We urge the U.S. Navy to commit appropriate resources to rescue disturbed or destroyed coral, remove or stabilize rubble, and protect loose live coral that has resulted from this incident.”

Here, here!!  Systems that ensure the “polluter pays” are a completely reasonable (and actually quite capitalist) approach to addressing damage to our environment.  The Navy’s negligence destroyed a significant part of our ocean environment. They should be required to pay for the injury they have caused and do all they can to prevent further damage.

What the Navy does in this situation will be a key indication of what the public can expect from their activities affecting the Papahanaumokuakaea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (you will recall the Navy plans to intercept chemical-laden missiles over Nihoa – the only home of at least four endangered species and one of the most significant cultural and archeological sites in the archipelago).

Check out the full article here: http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090402/NEWS11/904020369/1001

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Excerpt from Letter to the U.S. Army from Michael Reimer in regards to Depleted Uranium (DU) studies at Schofield Barracks, on Oahu, and Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), on Hawaii:

Colonel Howard Killian, Deputy Director
U.S. Army Installation Management Command
Pacific Region
132 Yamanaga Street
Fort Shafter, Hawaii 96858-5520

Dear Colonel Killian:

I have had an opportunity to review the reports released from DU studies at Schofield Barracks and Pohakuloa Training Area. I also spoke with Dr. Lorrin Pang, some members of the Community Advisory Group, and met contractor Dr. Jeff Morrow.

I agree with your statement that you mentioned in a previous communication we had, and that is to let the science speak.

In that light, I am particularly concerned that what is proposed by the U.S. Army for future studies at PTA will fall far short of providing the best information possible at this time, or for that matter, provide any information that can be used to develop a real rather than a speculative risk assessment.

DU is an issue of evolving study results and knowledge. There are some points that are immutable fact. We know that DU is present at Schofield and Pohakuloa. As I recall, the Army does not dispute the point of potential health risk. Therefore, we must take the best information we obtain today and use it to address the concerns about the level of health risks from potential exposure to DU.

The citizens of the Big Island are concerned. This is a natural, often fearful, reaction anytime the word radiation is mentioned in our society. Yet, we live in a world with ubiquitous and unavoidable natural radiation, from cosmic rays to the foodstuffs that provide our sustenance. According to the position of the U.S. EPA, any and all ionizing radiation has the potential of causing cancer. Thus, there has to be a reasoned balance between unavoidable exposure and elective exposure.

The past use of DU on the Big Island places exposure to that type of radioactive material in the “unavoidable exposure” category. This brings forth the question then of how much additional risk does it pose to the people of the Big Island including the military personnel stationed and working at Pohakuloa.

I believe that with adequate study, this question can be answered with reasonable assurance. As I mentioned, I do not believe the currently planned study has the capacity to answer that question. The reason for my belief is that the study design is to measure total uranium and to show that it is below standards set by World Agencies for regulated exposures. This may present itself as a feel-good approach, but it is unfortunately misleading even with the rudimentary information we have today about the form and occurrence of uranium in the natural environment. In other words, the study as currently planned still leaves the door wide open on determining excess health risks, if any.

Michael Reimer, Ph.D., geologist, retired
Kona Hawaii, Hawaii

Mahalo to Shannon for the tip. shannonkona@gmail.com

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