Ordnance Reef Survey Reveals Nothing Harmful

WAIANAE (KHNL) - Military munitions dumped in Hawaiian waters years ago, pose no immediate threat to the public or environment.

That's what scientists are saying after surveying Ordnance Reef, an area off the Waianae Coast of Oahu.

Last June, scientists spent two weeks searching an area off Pokai Bay.

They combed a five-square-nautical mile.

"This observation suggests little contamination of the Ordnance Reef derives from discarded military munitions," said Michael Overfield, survey chief scientist.

Members of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted the survey, along with other state agencies. The survey team deployed a remotely-operated vehicle and specially-trained scuba divers. They uncovered thousands of World War II munitions, including .30-caliber rounds.

"Overall trace medal enrichments from study areas is very low," said Overfield.

They also collected water, sediment and fish samples but didn't detect any explosives.

"Our preliminary assessment from the data provided is that there's no immediate threat to the public or environment," said J.C. King, assistant for munitions and chemical matters for the Army.

Since they believe these preliminary tests show the waters are safe, they don't plan to clean up this area. Scientists will release a final report on the survey at the end of the summer.

If you come across military munitions in that area, you should remember the three R's: recognize when you find it; retreat and don't touch it; and report it so your local law enforcement agency can respond.