By Denise Emsley, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii
PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM (NNS) -- The Navy's contractor will be performing a number of scheduled, controlled detonations at a safe, secured, pre-designated location at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) Waipio Peninsula Annex over the next few weeks. This action is to destroy additional military munitions recovered from on-going screening of dredged material from Pearl Harbor.
Detonations are planned to take place as needed from July 14 - 31, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at the Navy's Confined Disposal Facility at Waipio Peninsula.
"Munitions detonations began on July 7 and 8 as scheduled," said Navy Region Hawaii Environmental Program Director Aaron Poentis. "We are unaware of the public hearing or reporting any noises from this activity; but we expect many learned about the work from our public announcements to media outlets. It is our expectation that future work over the next few weeks will continue to be as unobtrusive to the public."
Work is being performed by personnel trained to execute this type of work from Cape Environmental Management Inc., and USA Environmental. Engineering controls and safety precautions have been implemented to ensure safety of personnel and protection of the environment.
At no time will the public be at risk. 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 others may hear a series of "popping" noises which indicate intentional detonation actions to render the military munition items harmless.
Types of munitions recovered from the screening of dredged material include 5-inch projectile, 4.5-inch barrage rockets and/or motors, 3-inch projectile, 75mm projectile, 60mm mortar, 40mm projectiles and/or casings, 20mm projectiles and/or casings, grenades, practice bomb, TNT demo charge, fuzes, a revolver, various small arms ammunition.
The State Department of Health (DOH) granted the Navy a State Emergency Hazardous Waste Permit on June 29, 2015 allowing the treatment of identified waste military munitions by detonation at a specific site on Waipio Peninsula for 90 calendar days from the issuance of the permit.
A maximum of 50 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.
This project previously began in April 2013. The contractor, Cape Environmental Management, Inc., screened construction and dredged material for munitions and some that were recovered were treated on site by controlled intentional detonations on Oct. 30, 2013. Due to lower than expected productivity, the project was temporarily suspended. After re-evaluating the process and making improvements to increase productivity, the project recently resumed in May 2015. Work is estimated to continue through the Spring/Summer 2016. The Navy will continue to work with DOH should additional permits be needed for the treatment of identified waste military munitions.
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., landfill soil cover, etc.).