Mapping of Ordnance Reef Begins

Published: May. 30, 2006 at 11:08 PM HST|Updated: May. 31, 2006 at 1:18 AM HST
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WAIANAE (KHNL) - The US military made no secret of its former munitions dump off the Waianae Coast -- now referred to as "ordnance reef."

Now, officials want to find out exactly what's out there, and if it's effecting the environment.

"Whatever they come up with in this initial assessment, the community in Waianae will be pushing to make sure that the assessment is as complete and accurate as possible," said William Aila, fisherman and longtime master at the Waianae Boat Harbor.

A study done by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) will survey a 5.5 square mile area, about a mile offshore from Pokai Bay.

Scientists will scan the ocean floor with remote operated vehicles, and divers will collect samples of water, fish, and sediment.

"People are understandibly concerned about it because they simply don't know and they don't have good information," said Governor Linda Lingle.

A study done in 2002 found 2,000 munitions in the area at varying depths. Officials say it appears none of them had been fired, and there were no signs they were chemical.

"If something is found that is of concern, or of some danger, then the next step, of course, is to remove those hazardous or dangerous conditions," said Aila.

The Department of Defense asked for this study, and say they are waiting for the results before deciding on what to do. They say the State Department of Health will be notified if there's any immediate danger, but they don't expect to find anything like that.

Test results are expected later this year.