Mission To Monitor Munitions Dumped Off Oahu

Tad Davis
Tad Davis

WAIANAE (KHNL) -- Members of the Waianae community want to know, what are the harmful affects of rotting chemical and conventional weapons dumped in leeward waters?

Thousands of shells sit on coral reefs and the ocean floor and after 60 years, they are in a fragile state.

During a flight in Chopper 8 along the leeward coast you can't see the hidden danger along the reef and ocean floor. After the first and second world wars, the military dumped weapons at sea. Some are shallow in 40-100 feet of water. Others are more than one thousand feet deep.

University of Hawaii marine scientists launch deep diving submersibles to investigate thousands of chemical munitions dumped about ten miles off the Waianae coast. Many are deteriorating along the ocean floor.

"What we are doing in this next effort is to go back over a longer period of time, determine water quality and determine if there is a any sort of impact the aquatic life in that area," explained Tad Davis, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Environment, Safety and Occupational Health.

There's another dumpsite outside of Pearl Harbor. This fall they'll take the submersibles down to map the munition fields and take samples.

"Anytime you are dealing with chemical weapons it's a special concern for all of us. We are taking a deliberate effort to locate and determine what the condition are of those munitions out in the ocean if there is cause for concern and if further action needs to be taken."

The army wants researchers to answer if after 60 years, can the munitions can be recovered and safely destroyed?

Davis will be at the Waianae neighborhood board Wednesday night.