Waikāne munitions cleanup feasibility study comments due 2/13/12

The Marine Corps clean up of unexploded munitions in the Waikāne ahupuaʻa is now at a critical stage where decisions will be made about the extent of clean up.  On January 12, 2012, the Marine Corps released its final draft of the Waikane Feasibility Study report. Comments on the proposed alternatives are being accepted  until February 13, 2012.

The website for minutes of the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) and other reports and documents can be accessed here.

The full Feasibility Study that is open for review can be downloaded here.

The good news is that the Marine Corps has proposed to clean up the southern area of the site, which consists of the flat lands near the stream and the main farming and ancient taro fields, to a level suitable for unrestricted use.  This would allow the resumption of farming and cultural practices once the land is certified safe.  The safety fence would then be removed from this portion of the land.

The transfer of these lands out of the military is a separate process. The community must continue to press for the return of lands to the Kamaka family heirs.

Based on community feedback, the Marines have also proposed subsurface clearance of munitions in portions of the northern target area in the vicinity of the Kamaka family shrine and the Waikāne spring, which would allow for cultural access to these sites.  However, these sites lie in the most heavily contaminated areas. Subsurface cleanup surrounding the culturally significant sites would be an important objective for the community. The Marine Corps proposal is to clear a very narrow (8-ft wide) path to the cultural sites bounded by a 6-ft high chain link fence, which led one member of the RAB to comment that it would feel like a prison.

RAB member Emil Wolfgramm, a Tongan master story teller and cultural expert said that while he appreciated the Marine Corp’s effort, they were only dealing with the “plumbing”, i.e. the mechanical and practical methods of removing ordnance, while the Kanaka Maoli were concerned with the “water,” the spiritual and cultural content that generates meaning and restores life to the land.  He recommended that the process should begin with the reconsecration of the land so that the land can speak and direct what needs to be done.

The following changes need to be made to the current feasibility study and recommended plan:

1.  All accessible areas (less than 30 degree slope) in the Northern target and non-target areas should be surface swept and cleared of munitions.

2. The proposed fenced access corridors to the cultural sites are too narrow and obtrusive.  The Marine Corps should clear a wider path to the Kamaka family shrine and Waikāne spring to allow for more free access to the sites.

3. Procedurally, in advance of finalizing the maps, the Marines should conduct a site visit/cultural access to the shrine and spring with the Kamaka family and other cultural practitioners to determine what safety border would be appropriate and culturally sensitive.

Please submit comments on the Waikāne Impact Area Feasibility Study to the Marine Corps by February 13, 2012.

Comments may be emailed to:  randall.hu@usmc.mil.

Send a copy of the email to David Henkin, community-co-chair of the Waikāne Impact Range RAB: davidlhenkin@yahoo.com

Or mail comments to:   Commanding Officer, Attn LE (R Hu), Box 63062 Environmental, MCBH Kaneohe Bay, HI 96863-3062.

The next Waikāne Impact Area Restoration Advisory Board meeting will be Wednesday, March 7, starting at 7 p.m. at the Waiāhole Elementary cafeteria.

 

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