The State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) issued the Navy a 5-year Remedial Action Plan Hazardous Waste Management Permit to treat remediation waste munitions recovered from dredging and construction-related activities throughout Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH). The permit was issued on January 28, 2019 and will expire on January 21, 2024. Notice of this permit was published in The Honolulu Star Advertiser newspaper on November 25, 2018.
Navy Explosives or Munitions Emergency Response Specialists, will treat remediation waste munitions recovered from dredging and construction-related activities by conducting controlled, intentional detonations at Waipio Peninsula. These detonations will be conducted similar to those detonations last performed on September 26, 2018 under the prior 90-day Emergency Hazardous Waste Permit.
“Remediation waste munitions are recovered during dredging and construction-related activities throughout Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam” said Navy Region Hawaii Environmental Program Director Aaron Poentis. “Once found, they are stored in a safe, secured location at the Navy’s Confined Disposal Facility on Waipio Peninsula and are detonated in accordance with the respective Work Plan, Health and Safety Plan, Explosives Safety Submission, and applicable Standard Operating Procedures. Our 5-year Hazardous Waste Management Permit from the State of Hawaii Department of Health allows for the treatment of munitions by detonations at a specific site on Waipio Peninsula.”
Navy’s contractors, Tikigaq-Agviq LLC and APTIM, will conduct the first detonation event under the new permit on February 19, from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., at the secured, designated site on Waipio Peninsula. Indication of detonation events may be a series of “popping” sounds that could be carried by the wind and heard by the public. At no time will the public be at risk. Future detonation events may be planned every two to four weeks throughout calendar year 2019.
Due to past historical events (e.g., Dec. 7, 1941 attack, May 1944 Landing Ship Tank explosion, suspected past disposal practices, etc.), some munitions are suspected to be in waters of Pearl Harbor. As a result, dredged material from Pearl Harbor is collected and temporarily accumulated within earth-bermed cells on Waipio Peninsula to be dewatered, dried, and carefully screened for munitions. Those recovered are stored in secured, portable magazines until they are destroyed by scheduled detonation events.
In addition, munitions may also be uncovered during excavation work on a construction project at Pearl Harbor. These too are securely stored and scheduled for detonation. Types of munitions include, but are not limited to: 5-inch projectiles and/or cartridges, 4.5-inch barrage rockets, 3-inch projectiles and/or cartridges, 75mm projectiles and/or cartridges, 60 mm mortar, 40mm projectiles and/or cartridges, 37mm projectiles and/or cartridges, 20mm projectiles and/or cartridges, fuzes, flares, small arms ammunition and other military munitions.
During scheduled, intentional detonation events, all required engineering controls such as trench pits and sandbag enclosures are used to mitigate fragmentation hazard, over-pressurization, and noise. Exclusion zones and entry control points are established and maintained for added safety.
Personnel performing this work are well trained and will implement engineering controls and safety precautions to ensure safety of personnel and protection of the environment.
“We are pleased to receive this 5-year permit and will meet all requirements set by the State DOH,” said Poentis. “All work will be performed safely and as unobtrusively as possible.”