Lead on beach threatens children

Knud Lindgard
Knud Lindgard
Fenix Grange
Fenix Grange
John Mitchell
John Mitchell

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

KAILUA (KHNL) - Nearly 40 years after its use, the Hawaii State Department of Health says a former skeet shooting range threatens part of a Windward Oahu shoreline and there's a danger especially for children.

A joint agency response with the Department of Land and Natural Resources looks to reduce that risk by picking up remnants of pellets.

The tide is pushing in pieces of lead to a half mile of shoreline around an area now known as the Kailua Bay Estate subdivision. While no incidents of contamination yet, the state says it would rather be safe than sorry.

"Inside the rocks, here's a lot," said Kailua Resident Knud Lindgard.

Kailua's Kaimalino Beach.

"There that's a good one," said Lindgard.

Nestled near the shoreline.

"It's different in color, different in texture," said Lindgard.

Captured by fossilized coral.

"You get it into the hands of children and it's a problem," said Lindgard.

Knud Lindgard looks for lead.

"Right along here," said Lindgard.

State health officials are concerned. But a 1998 study confirms important information.

"The sand wasn't toxic, the water wasn't toxic, air's not an issue, really the pathway is the consumption pellets," said Hazard Evaluation & Emergency Response Official Fenix Grange.

Lead pellets. Left behind by the Honolulu Skeet Club last occupying the area in 1970. If consumed by children, they could cause abdominal pain, anemia, even brain or kidney damage.

Cleanup crews will sift through the sandy area, searching for lead sized about 2 millimeters. While the state is taking aim at the problem, property owners don't want the publicity.

Some fear talk of lead nearby will nosedive property values. Posted signs about the problem don't stay up for long.

"They've removed them, defaced them, it's not necessarily the property owners, it's the real estate people," said Lindgard.

Calling it a low traffic area, others say it's about protecting the natural environment.

"This isn't Kailua beach or Lanikai beach. Just very few people mostly fisherman," said Kailua Resident John Mitchell.

The state informs the public on methods it will protect this environment and human health, a chance for everyone to be informed before the cleanup begins.

The effort will cost $50,000 and some question if it's worth it since few use the area. State crews start the two week cleanup process February 16th.