By Denise Emsley, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii
PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (NNS) -- During the Navy's screening of dredged harbor material at its Confined Disposal Facility, Waipio Peninsula, Oahu, various potentially explosive munitions have been recovered that are scheduled to be destroyed through controlled detonations at a safe location Oct. 30 and potentially Oct. 31.
"At no time will the public be at risk," said Navy Region Hawaii Environmental Program Director Aaron Poentis. "The project site is located within a secured area on Navy property on Waipio Peninsula. Depending on the winds and weather, the public along the Pearl Harbor waterfront at Waipahu, Ewa, Pearl City, Aiea and Pearl Harbor-Hickam and others may hear a series of loud noises which indicate intentional detonation actions to render the items harmless."
Types of munitions recovered from the screening of dredged material include 11 each 4.5-inch Barrage Rockets; 9 each 40mm Projectiles and/or Cartridges; and 59 each 20mm Projectiles, Cartridges and/or Point Detonating Fuze.
On Sept. 25, 2013, the State Department of Health (DOH) granted the Department of the Navy a State Hazardous Waste Emergency Permit allowing the Navy to treat the identified waste military munitions by detonation at a specific site on Waipio Peninsula.
A maximum of fifteen detonation events will be allowed. Each controlled detonation event will use no more than 15 pounds net explosive weight. Detonation events will be conducted in accordance with the respective Work Plan, Health and Safety Plan, Explosives Safety Submission and applicable Standard Operating Procedures.
"The contractor performing this project is Cape Environmental Management Inc. which has trained and extensively experienced personnel to execute this type of work," said Poentis. "Required structural engineering controls and precautions will be implemented to ensure safety of personnel and protection of the environment. All of this effort is being accomplished in close coordination with the DOH. Tentative time for the detonation is between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m."
The DOH Hazardous Waste Emergency Permit also directs a notice be placed in the local newspaper which was accomplished in the Star Advertiser on Sunday, Oct. 20.
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. During construction and maintenance dredging, munitions have been removed along with the dredged material. Dredged material has been temporarily accumulated within earth-bermed cells on Waipio Peninsula to be dewatered, dried and screened prior to use for other beneficial purposes (e.g., soil cover for sanitary landfill, etc.).
In April 2013, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii's contractor, Cape Environmental Management, Inc., actively began the munitions screening and removal portion of this project. Due to budget constraints, further munitions screening and removal have been temporarily discontinued. Additional field work is estimated to resume around March 2014.