Closer To Cleanup of Dumped Munitions In Our Waters. - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Closer To Cleanup of Dumped Munitions In Our Waters.

Clayton Calaruda Clayton Calaruda
Tad Davis Tad Davis
William Aila William Aila

By: Paul Drewes

(KHNL) Waianae - Washed up munitions littering Leeward O'ahu beaches has kept the Waianae community fired up, but now there's a step toward a solution.

After taking a close look at what munitions have been dumped in West O'ahu waters, the Army and members of the Waianae Coast now want to study the health effects of the chemicals on humans. At the same time, studying the best way to clean things up.

For years, Clayton Calaruda has fished along the Waianae Coast. And for decades, he's seen old military propellant grains, which were dumped offshore, wash up on the beach. "Since I was in elementary, I would pick them up when I was young." says Calaruda.

A light turns them into an intense flare-like fire, and there is the danger of these pellets exploding. But not everyone know about the hazards that come from the grains. Many of which wash up at Maili beach and other beaches along the Waianae Coast.

And the grains aren't the only hazard lurking in our waters.

"We know further offshore there are chemical munition there." says Waianae Harbor Master, William Aila.

But even the US Army doesn't know exactly which munition is where. Or, if any leakage has affected the fish or seaweed people consume. That concerns some members of the Leeward Oahu community. "Its very important to me cause I'm spearing fish that I am giving to my family, some of these are in sight of munitions." says Aila.

"There's leakage I'm sure, so if its affecting the fish, it will affect us on shore." adds Calaruda.

The Army says it would like to fill in the blanks with more studies and also look carefully at what would be best to do with all those underwater munitions.

"There's a couple of options. Remove them where they are, blow them in place and third, leave in place and mark them on maps so people know where hazards are." says the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Army, Tad Davis.

But Davis adds, removing them or blowing them up could prove problematic for some of the weapons or ammo, because they have become part of the coral reefs offshore. And their removal could be harmful to the ecosystem. Further studies will be needed to figure out the best way to go.

The Waianae Coast is just one of three offshore sites the Army is looking at cleaning up. The other two are at Barbers Point and Pearl Harbor.