Army searching for unexploded ordnance near Makua Valley

Army searching for unexploded ordnance near Makua Valley
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

MAKUA BEACH, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Military technicians are searching a 10-acre area makai of Makua Valley for decades-old unexploded ordnance, and they're asking residents to stay out of the search site.

Some aren't heeding the warning.

The situation has Army officials concerned, and they're considering posting signs to warn people of the danger.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii spokesperson Stefanie Gutierrez said the military trained in an area that includes nearly 900 acres adjacent to Makua Valley from the 1920s to 1990. "That would have been anything from small arms fire, like a rifle bullet to something larger, like artillery or mortar fire," she said.

Mock maneuvers included beach landings at Yokohama Bay and Makua Beach and live-fire exercises from Makua to what is now the U.S. Air Force Satellite Tracking Station.

Gutierrez said the Army has guards posted at the 10-acre site who are asking people to stay off the property during the field work.

"We want to make sure that the workers in that area are not worried about people going into the site, and more importantly, people are endangering their own safety by entering that active work area," she said.

But some are questioning the Army's message.

"I have some concerns," said Fred Dodge, of Malama Makua. "But people have been going out there for years and years. I haven't heard of incidences or explosions on the beach side."

An incident did happen last year in the Makua Military Reserve: Two civilian contractors were hurt when a landscaper hit a piece of unexploded ordnance with a weed whacker. The last live-fire training was conducted in the valley in 2004.

It's been much longer since live-fire training ended in the 10-acre area that's being surveyed, it was first cleared of unexploded ordnance in the 1950s.

Guiterrez said there are better modern search methods that can look deeper underground. The work is expected to run through April.

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