State to test for radiation at Kaneohe Sandbar

Published: Sep. 1, 2011 at 10:36 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 2, 2011 at 12:32 AM HST
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Carroll Cox
Carroll Cox

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) – A small amount of a radioactive isotope leaked into Kaneohe Bay when a CH 53D helicopter from Marine Corps Base Hawaii crashed onto the Sandbar March 29, 2011 killing a Marine and injuring three others.

A Marine Corps spokesperson told Hawaii News Now there was "none at the site once the aircraft was removed," but the state wants to make sure. Friday representatives from the state Department of Health and Department of Land and Natural Resources will travel by boat to the Sandbar to measure radiation levels.

Environmental watchdog Carroll Cox made the leak public when he contacted the media Thursday.

"What is most troubling to me in this situation was one, the failure to disclose it, and two, to allow it to continue to occur and progress without disclosing it and subjecting other human beings to this potential danger," Cox told Hawaii News Now.

The CH 53D is equip with an In-Flight Blade Inspection System (IBIS). A device is attached to each rotor to warn the crew of problems with the blade while in-flight. Each device contains a small amount Strontium 90, a radioactive isotope.

"We don't know if they recovered all six (IBIS devices) or what quantity they recovered or what was the proper disposal," Cox said.

The Marine Corps spokesperson Maj. Alan Crouch confirmed there "was some contamination" from the inspection system, but said the radiation was "contained," and there was "none at the site once the aircraft was removed."

Cox is not so sure. He faults the military and civilians on base for not disclosing the leak and is asking the Marine Corps, the Department of Health, and the DLNR to investigate.

"I'm inclined to believe that there is still radiation out there, period. And until they give me a clear bill of health that they have gone out with a third party, then I would accept that," Cox said.

Crouch said the leak was not made public because it was "not at a level to require notification."

Both the Department of Health and the Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday they did not know about the radiation leak until receiving letters from Cox this week.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.