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Showing blog entries tagged as: military toxics

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Holding the Navy Accountable on Two Fronts

From Marti:Lualualei along the Waianae Coast

The Navy has been on the hot seat lately for the damage it has caused in Hawaii nei.  In central and western Oahu, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state got a commitment from the Navy to clean up any remaining contamination at two Superfund sites – one in Lualualei near the naval munitions storage area and the other in Wahiawa. While preliminary investigations have indicated that no immediate threats currently exist at the sites, soil contaminants at the sites include PCBs, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics and metals. PCBs can cause cancer in animals and adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems in humans.

“Our agreement with the Navy and the state finalizes the process that the Navy will follow to complete the investigation and clean up of any remaining chemical contamination at both sites.” said Keith Takata, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Superfund Division.

The agreement with the Navy is open to public comment.  Get your say in now by visiting:

Check out the full article at The Hawaii Independent:

Broken coral reef from the USS Port RoyalAnd, on the South shore of Oahu, controversy is brewing as the state attempts to hold the Navy financially responsible for the carnage of coral from the USS Port Royal grounding in February 2009.  Ten acres of ancient coral was destroyed!  Chunks as large as cars are still bouncing around on the ocean floor causing further damage.

“There is a critical need for the U.S. Navy to mitigate the damage which has occurred, which continues to occur, and which will get worse with the upcoming south summer swell,” said Laura H. Thielen, chairwoman of the DLNR, in the letter.

“We urge the U.S. Navy to commit appropriate resources to rescue disturbed or destroyed coral, remove or stabilize rubble, and protect loose live coral that has resulted from this incident.”

Here, here!!  Systems that ensure the “polluter pays” are a completely reasonable (and actually quite capitalist) approach to addressing damage to our environment.  The Navy’s negligence destroyed a significant part of our ocean environment. They should be required to pay for the injury they have caused and do all they can to prevent further damage.

What the Navy does in this situation will be a key indication of what the public can expect from their activities affecting the Papahanaumokuakaea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (you will recall the Navy plans to intercept chemical-laden missiles over Nihoa – the only home of at least four endangered species and one of the most significant cultural and archeological sites in the archipelago).

Check out the full article here:

Will Proposed Army Studies on DU Tell Us What We Need to Know?

Posted by Miwa at Mar 13, 2009 07:09 PM |

Excerpt from Letter to the U.S. Army from Michael Reimer in regards to Depleted Uranium (DU) studies at Schofield Barracks, on Oahu, and Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), on Hawaii:

Colonel Howard Killian, Deputy Director
U.S. Army Installation Management Command
Pacific Region
132 Yamanaga Street
Fort Shafter, Hawaii 96858-5520

Dear Colonel Killian:

I have had an opportunity to review the reports released from DU studies at Schofield Barracks and Pohakuloa Training Area. I also spoke with Dr. Lorrin Pang, some members of the Community Advisory Group, and met contractor Dr. Jeff Morrow.

I agree with your statement that you mentioned in a previous communication we had, and that is to let the science speak.

In that light, I am particularly concerned that what is proposed by the U.S. Army for future studies at PTA will fall far short of providing the best information possible at this time, or for that matter, provide any information that can be used to develop a real rather than a speculative risk assessment.

DU is an issue of evolving study results and knowledge. There are some points that are immutable fact. We know that DU is present at Schofield and Pohakuloa. As I recall, the Army does not dispute the point of potential health risk. Therefore, we must take the best information we obtain today and use it to address the concerns about the level of health risks from potential exposure to DU.

The citizens of the Big Island are concerned. This is a natural, often fearful, reaction anytime the word radiation is mentioned in our society. Yet, we live in a world with ubiquitous and unavoidable natural radiation, from cosmic rays to the foodstuffs that provide our sustenance. According to the position of the U.S. EPA, any and all ionizing radiation has the potential of causing cancer. Thus, there has to be a reasoned balance between unavoidable exposure and elective exposure.

The past use of DU on the Big Island places exposure to that type of radioactive material in the “unavoidable exposure” category. This brings forth the question then of how much additional risk does it pose to the people of the Big Island including the military personnel stationed and working at Pohakuloa.

I believe that with adequate study, this question can be answered with reasonable assurance. As I mentioned, I do not believe the currently planned study has the capacity to answer that question. The reason for my belief is that the study design is to measure total uranium and to show that it is below standards set by World Agencies for regulated exposures. This may present itself as a feel-good approach, but it is unfortunately misleading even with the rudimentary information we have today about the form and occurrence of uranium in the natural environment. In other words, the study as currently planned still leaves the door wide open on determining excess health risks, if any.

Michael Reimer, Ph.D., geologist, retired
Kona Hawaii, Hawaii

Mahalo to Shannon for the tip.

Kitty: Here's a mirror

evans-and-kitty-fishfestIf Kitty Simonds (WESPAC Exec.) really believes what she wrote in this Sunday-Editorial, then this woman needs to take a good look in the mirror.  She calls out the U.S. military for the harm its presence causes the people of the Pacific, when WESPAC’s own mismanagement over the last 25 years has decimated multiple fisheries here.

Yes, the U.S. military should not be stationing troops and conducting exercises in the fragile and important waters surrounding these island-nations.  At the same time, WESPAC should not be tyring to exploit their resources for U.S. commercial extraction either.

WESPAC and the U.S. military: they are the left and right boots of the U.S. empiral march over the people of the Pacific.

That said, I had to laugh reading this.  It is just so ironic to hear Kitty of all people advocating for more transparency and public participation in the decision-making process.  (Someone please launch the pigs.)

WESPAC has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to open government.  Not only is WESPAC under investigation by two federal agencies for misuse of federal funds, but we and few other groups just filed suit against them for failing to release government records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Adding to the irony of Kitty’s argument here: there were public hearings held on the designation of additional marine monuments throughout the Pacific.  I attended the one in Honolulu myself.   It was conveniently located just down the block from WESPAC’s annual 3-day meeting.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see any of the WESPAC representatives at that public hearing on the monuments.

Marine monuments shouldn’t have higher priority than people
By Kitty Simonds
Honolulu Star-Bulletin
January 18, 2009

WestPac – The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council – appreciates the Bush administration’s recognition that the newly proclaimed U.S. Pacific island marine monument waters have been “effectively regulated under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and by WestPac.” These new national monuments “are complementary strategies” to the fisheries management plans developed by the council, noted Jim Connaughton, chairman of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality.

Under the council’s plans, a ban on all fishing from 0 to 50 fathoms (300 feet) depth has been in effect since 2004 in all of the areas. Coral reefs do not live below this depth. Pelagic fishing by vessels larger than 50 feet in length has been banned within 50 miles of the Rose Atoll wildlife refuge in American Samoa since 2002. Under the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge status, commercial fishing has been banned within 12 miles of Palmyra since 2001.

The council looks forward to continuing its work to protect everyone’s interest in these areas.

However, it is concerned that the Antiquities Act, used to create these enormous marine monuments, currently bypasses the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates an environmental review as well as an appropriate participatory process for the indigenous people and other members of the public. The Antiquities Act should be amended to require NEPA as well as congressional approval of future monuments, as it does in Wyoming and Alaska.

The U.S. Pacific Islands now account for half of the marine protected areas in the United States. Local commercial fishermen are banned from nearly a quarter of the waters surrounding the U.S. Pacific islands. The significant loss of fishing areas can be counterproductive to sustainable fishery goals. Reduction of available fishing areas often leads to increased fishing pressure in other areas. It also undermines cultural and ecological goals. Our populations consume three times the national average in seafood and should be able to eat their own fish. When local fisheries are closed, the consequence is air-freighting imported fresh fish, which has negative effects on climate change and ocean acidification by increasing the U.S. carbon footprint. The U.S. currently imports 86 percent of its seafood.

While well-regulated and monitored commercial fishing with no proven negative ecosystem effects are being banned, other activities that can harm the monument resources will be allowed. Military activities will continue and are expected to increase with the relocation of 8,000 Marines, plus their families, and 15,000 contract workers to Guam.

Military bombing in nearby Farallon de Medinilla in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands is allowed to kill all the endangered megapodes (a flightless bird) on the island, under a Fish & Wildlife Service-issued biological opinion. Hawksbill, green and leatherback sea turtles, fruit bats and other plant and animal species are also affected by the bombing and other military activities.

The Bush administration has compared the new monuments to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where monument designation has led to increased human activity from tourists, visitors and researchers. While traditional indigenous fishing is permitted, the fish must be consumed within the monument and cannot be brought back to family and communities.

The only way to realize the president’s dream for the new monuments is through much-needed funds to the U.S. Coast Guard and local government agencies to adequately patrol and enforce the waters surrounding the U.S. Pacific islands. The Marianas’ waters are within 1,500 to 2,000 miles of the Asian mainland and Southeast Asia and could be accessed by every major Asian fishing fleet.

We look forward to the promised economic bounty that the Marianas and American Samoa communities will receive from the monument designation, but hopefully, if it comes, it will not be at the expense of the environment or the indigenous people. Kitty Simonds is executive director of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council.

Thar She Blows: DU on the move on the Big Island

Waiki`i Ranch Dust Samples Show No Depleted Uranium” is apparently receiving a skeptical response from local and international scientific experts, according to our friends at Malu `Aina on Hawai`i Island.

The report posted a “statistically insignificant” amount of depleted uranium (DU) in the community of Waiki`i, 8 – 10 miles downwind of Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA), where the Army admitted in 2006 to using DU spotting rounds for its Davy Crockett nuclear weapons system. The test is based on a sample taken by Waiki`i Ranch Depleted Uranium Project Manager, David Bigelow, and sent to a laboratory in England for analysis.

From Malu `Aina guys:

Dr.Rosalie Bertell, PhD, remarks that the lab report “actually says that there IS DU in the sample. There should be zero. It is irrelevant that it is ‘not significant.’” Dr. Bertell — who has been honored by the a statisticisn, epidemiologist, and member of the Science Advisory Board, International Joint Commission of the U. S. and Canada — goes on to say: “What you really want to know is whether or not the uranium found in the sample has been fired. This means electron spectroscopy.” Dr. Pang is also skeptical about the term “statiscally insignificant.” He claims that the laboratory’s reading of 1/100 DU, allowing for a measurement error of 1%, could mean the presence of 2% DU in the sample instead of its “zero” interpretation.

Dr. Lorrin Pang, MD, MPH, comments: “it is hard to do statistics with a sample of one,” referring to the single dustpan sample depicted on the front page of the newspaper’s July 22 issue. Dr. Pang, speaking as private citizen, is retired from the Army Medical Corps, is on the Best Doctors of America list 2006-8, and a consultant to the World Health organization (WHO) since 1985. Russell Takata, state radiation chief, is also on record as questioning WRHOA’s methodology.

To label tests a “bust” and conclude that “preliminary results find no health hazard” is simply not supported by fact. Closer to the truth is that we have been told little or nothing about whatever tests may have been conducted by the state or federal governments. Mr Takata refers to “preliminary reviews of about 90% of test results” but gives no data. What about the other 10%? The Army allegedly tested 800 dust samples, but these results have yet to be made available to the state or the public. All of this adds up to sweeping claims of safety, while providing no hard data to back them up. This has been a repeated pattern over the past several years: claims but no data.

The Hawaii County Council by a vote of 8-1 on July 2nd, passed resolution 639-08, calling for the halting of all live-fire that could spread military radiation and independent, comprehensive, testing

Hawaii County Council Passes Reso on DU: Clean 'em up first!

Mahalo to friends/activists on the Big Island! Ho‘omaika‘i ia! And thanks to everyone who submitted testimony and responded to action alerts–the resolution on depleted uranium passed without bad amendments–you helped make it happen!

From West Hawaii Today:

The council approved a resolution from Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole that requests the U.S. Army to halt B-2 bombing missions and live firing exercises until it’s determined whether depleted uranium is present at the Pohakuloa Training Area.

Although the resolution does not carry the power of law, the council spent more than six hours Wednesday discussing it and listening to testimony from numerous residents in favor of it.

The council heard from Dr. Lorrin Pang with the state Department of Health who, speaking as a resident, painted a grim picture regarding the lack of information there is on DU levels on the island and the circumstantial evidence that depleted uranium may be responsible for a spike in new cancer cases.

From 2000 through 2004, Pang said 444 new cancer cases were reported on the Big Island, which is more than new cases from the other Hawaiian Islands.

A majority of the county’s new cancer cases were from Kona, where dust originating from PTA usually ends up because of wind, he said. “It is prudent a survey be done to put to rest our uncertainty about (the military’s) record-keeping,” Pang said. “Something’s cooking here on Big Island.”

Depleted uranium was discovered at PTA in 2006, which originated from spotting rounds in Davy Crockett weapons systems tested in the 1960s.

The council approved a few amendments to the resolution, including one from Ka’u Councilman Bob Jacobson that states the “U.S. military shall conduct a search of all records for firing of depleted uranium at (PTA) and all other Hawaii state military sites and release pertinent information to the public.”

An amendment from Council Chairman Pete Hoffmann, Kohala, to remove language in the resolution that requests the military to halt bombing missions and live firing exercises was defeated in an 8-1 vote, with Hoffmann the only one to cast a favorable vote. Hoffmann, who served in the military for more than 28 years, said he agrees the country should not be in Iraq, but because that is the case, the request in question would lead to inadequate training.

Other council members said the Army should find a different place to train until it’s determined if depleted uranium is causing problems for residents and military personnel.

Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong said the council’s favorable vote puts the military on notice “that you have to investigate.”

Army Col. Howard Killian told the council the military plans to have a citizen monitoring committee in place by the end of the month. South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford plans to introduce a resolution that requests Pang is placed on the committee as the council’s representative.

photo: The Davy Crockett Atomic Battle Group Delivery System fired on the Big Island (island breath post)

Hawaii County Council to Consider DU Cleanup Reso

DU slug

The military finally admitted in 2006 that depleted uranium (DU) spotting rounds for the Davy Crockett nuclear weapon system have been used at Schofield Barracks, the Pohakuloa Training Area, and possibly Makua Valley between 1962 and 1968.

The Army long denied ever using DU in Hawai‘i; reassuring residents in countless public hearings and environmental impact statements that “a records search for depleted uranium rounds was conducted and determined that these types of munitions were never part of the Army’s inventory in Hawai‘i… .”

The U.S. military has an obligation to be candid with the public about its activities in Hawaii because they have far-reaching implications for our health and welfare. The people of Hawaii will be left to suffer the consequences of U.S. military activities long after they have moved on to other fronts. That is why we must be vigilant and demand answers to our questions: Have other DU spotting rounds and the more hazardous DU armor penetrating rounds been used as well? What don’t we know about existing military contamination? What should we know before we even begin to consider pending expansion of live fire activities?

From friends on the Big Island:
The Hawaii County Council will be hearing Resolution 639-08 Urging the U.S. Military to address the hazards of depleted uranium (DU) at the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA). The hearing is set for Wednesday, July 2nd 8:30 AM at the Council room on the 2nd floor of the Hilo Ben Franklin building.

pohakuloa training area (pta), big island. hawaii nei.

You can support by submitting this letter to all Hawaii County council members, urging their support of resolution 639-08.

A growing number of people feel it is time to stop all live-fire and shut down PTA and get to the root of the problem. Stopping all live-fire at PTA is a key public safety and environmental conservation issue. Any live-fire training increases the risk of spreading the radiation contamination. There needs to be a thorough independent assessment and clean-up of the existing contamination before live-fire training can even be considered!

Unfortunately, Council Chair Pete Hoffmann has already prepared an amendment to delete the call for a complete halt to all live firing at PTA which is the heart of the matter. Don’t let this happen!

live fire at pohakula PTA

“… Just as smoking affects the primary user as well as those inhaling second hand smoke, the airborne products of DU burning remain suspended for long periods and travel great distances in the atmosphere. We do not know all the toxicity of the airborne DU products (nano-toxicity) but some forms (DU oxides) we do know can persist in the body for decades. When internalized DU emits the most dangerous type of radiation, alpha radiation. Animals with implanted alpha emitters have shown high cancer rates and birth defects – which can pass on to subsequent, UNEXPOSED generations.

- Lorrin Pang, MD, MPH (speaking as a private citizen). Dr. Pang was born and raised in Hawaii, and is Retired Army Medical Corp, Best Doctors of America list 2006-8, Consultant to the World Health organization (WHO) since 1986, Consultant Glaxo Smith Kline

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