Opening Statement before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety & Licensing Board by Jim Albertini
University of Hawaii, Hilo Campus
Library Building, Videoconference Room LRC 361
Administrative Judges for Oral Arguments:
E. Roy Hawkens, Chairman, Dr. Anthony J. Baratta, Dr. Michael F. Kennedy
January 13, 2010
Aloha Kakou –A warm greeting to you all In Rockville, Maryland and others viewing via the internet wherever you may be.
Before us is the issue of the U.S. Army’s request for a license to possess Depleted Uranium (DU), not only at sites in Hawaii but at numerous other sites around the U.S. Let me translate that is simple terms. A license to possess rubbish is a rubbish dump. A license to possess depleted uranium is a nuclear waste dump.
For the record –my name is James V. Albertini. My physical address is l7-339 Helenihi Place in Ola’a (Kurtistown), Island of Hawaii which is the same physical address of Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent education & Action. My phone # is 808-966-7622. The Center for Non-violent Education & Action is a 50l (c) (3) non-profit all volunteer organization. I am the president of the organization which grows food — fruits and vegetables, fish and eggs on its 22-acre organic farm. Most of the food we grow is shared freely with people in need. Some is marketed to carry on educational work for peace, justice and protecting the environment. I am here both as an individual and representing the organization which is very much concerned about military contamination in Hawaii and around the world.
My home and our organization are located approximately 25 miles from Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA). I planted the first banana trees and the beginning of more than 50 varieties of fruit, 30 varieties of taro and other vegetables, 30 years ago. Malu ‘Aina farm has been my home ever since. On cool nights, with winds coming off the mountains (and the cocqui frogs not chirping), I can hear the live-fire shelling and bombing at Pohakuloa. If the wind carries the sound I wonder if it’s also carrying the poison dust of Depleted Uranium –DU. On an island we are all downwind. The same can be said of the planet.
Let’s cut to the chase. Recently 6700 tons of sand from Kuwait contaminated with DU at Camp Doha, a U.S. Army base there, has been shipped to Boise, Idaho for burial. Poor Boise, but what’s good for Kuwait should be good for Hawaii. Instead of seeking a license for the depleted uranium to remain in place at Schofield and Pohakuloa, the military needs to learn a lesson that all of our mothers teach us from small kid time — clean up your mess. The Army needs to clean up in Hawaii as it did Camp Doha, and in such a way so as to not contaminate other communities, if that is even feasible. Maybe you have room in Rockville, Maryland.
On Hawaii island, our organization published a map (put map on screen) documenting 57 known present and former military sites totaling over 400 square miles (250,000-acres) that may contain live arms and other military toxins and should be considered military hazard areas. Most of these sites remain unfenced and with no signage about unexploded ordnance and other hazards.
Instead of cleaning up, the military is expanding its mess that now involves radiation contamination at Schofield, PTA, and possibly other sites in Hawaii, especially Makua Valley. For more information on this military mess in Hawaii I refer you to “No Peace in Paradise,” Haleakala Times, May 8, 2007 by Kyle Kajihiro. Also the book –“The Dark Side of Paradise –Hawaii in a Nuclear World” co-authored by myself and others.
In September of 2009 the West Hawaii Today daily newspaper on this island conducted a poll. Approximately l,000 people responded to the question: Do you believe the army about depleted uranium on Pohakuloa? l4% –l35 votes said they believe the army and are not concerned about their health. 48% –445 votes said they want independent testing for DU, and 36% –339 votes said they do not believe a word the army says.
The NRC’s job is to protect the health and safety of the people and not to put a burden on the people to prove that we have been harmed by military depleted uranium. This basic human right and legal principle is recognized in environmental law –that the proponent (in this case the U.S. Army) is required to study the possible impacts before actually impacting the public by training, etc. Environmental Impact law recognizes the premise that the cart (the impact) comes after, not before, the horse (the study). The Army has it backwards. It’s impacted us and now it doesn’t even want to do good science to see what the impact might be.
I’m a taxpayer and I have overall financial and other responsibility for our non-profit organization. I want the organic food we grow, and the air, land and water in Hawaii and around the world to be healthy, not contaminated with chemicals or military radiation. As a taxpayer, my taxes have unfortunately helped pay for the mess, and my taxes will have to help clean it up. That constitutes legal standing to me.
On July 2, 2008, The Hawaii County Council passed resolution #639-08 by a vote of 8 to l. The resolution urges the U.S. military to address the hazards of depleted uranium at the Pohakuloa Training Area. The only nay vote was by a retired Army Colonel. The resolution calls for 8 action points but number one is “Order a complete halt to B-2 bombing missions and to all live firing exercises and other activities at the Pohakuloa training Area that create dust until there is an assessment and clean up of the depleted uranium already present.” The other 7 actions call for monitoring, funding, reports, meetings, search of records, etc. By the way, according to the Army Stryker EIS, between 7 million and l4.8 million live-rounds are fired at PTA annually. Everything from small arms, to heavy artillery, rockets, missiles, and bunker busting bombs.
My preference is for no military license to possess DU here or anywhere. International law says DU weapons are WMDs and illegal. I want PTA shut down, decommissioned, cleaned up and returned to its rightful owners — the independent nation of Hawaii. A first step toward that end, or in any license to possess DU, is a halt to all live-fire and other activities that create dust at PTA. There needs to be a thorough independent assessment (thorough testing and monitoring) of the entire l33,000-acre PTA base for DU contamination (not simply l,000-acres spot checked). After the assessment, clean up needs to be completed. Given the military’s history of lies (example –Army doing nerve gas testing instead of weather testing in Hilo’s watershed), and the use of DU for ballast and in penetrator weapons (put document of various DU weapons on screen), there is reason to believe there is far more DU contamination at PTA than the military wants us to know. This is all the more reason we need independent, comprehensive good scientific data, which to date is missing. If the military has nothing to hide, prove it by transparency which at present is terribly lacking.
My Response to NRC Question One –How the Army downplays inhalation hazard of DU oxide?
First I would like to concur with submissions sent to you Oct. 30, 2009 by Cory Harden quoting Dr. Lorrin Pang, MD, Dr. Mike Reimer, and Dr. Marshall Blann with criticisms of the Army’s air monitoring and characterization studies –what’s at PTA and how much of a hazard.
How does the Army fail to acknowledge the inhalation hazard of DU poison dust? The Army has made numerous unreliable safety claims without any studies done, data and reviews. Examples.
l. August 27, 2007 Hawaii Tribune-Herald news article headline “DU found at PTA”: “Material doesn’t pose a health dangers” Army says. This is the date the Army claimed they discovered DU at Pohakuloa.
2. Aug. 30, 2007 Army News Army.Mil/News: “DU found at PTA poses no threat to the population of Hawaii, civilian or military.” Col. Matthew Margotta, Commander, US Army Garrison. Same article “Today DU is not used in military training, but in the 50s and 60s it was used anytime you needed a heavy weight,” said Greg Komp, Senior health physicist, Office of the Director of Army Safety, Washington, D.C.
3. April 24, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser “DU poses no Health Risk” Army says.
4. Aug. 4, 2008 Honolulu Star-Bulletin “DU –NO Risk to public Army contends.”
Let me make an analogy: Army Garrison Commander Col. Margotta says that quote “DU found at PTA poses no threat to the population of Hawaii, civilian or military.” end quote. He said those words 3 days after DU was confirmed to be present at PTA. What was his assurance based on? No studies were done. No data produced. No peer reviews. Nothing. Zip. Zilch.
The analogy I want to make concerns cigarettes. The few DU pieces found (the cigarette) are not the major concern. Since only a few DU pieces were found , much remains unaccounted for.The unaccounted for DU may have been exploded and burned by 40-50 years of bombing and the DU particles scattered by the winds. Like a cigarette butt in an ash tray is an indication of smoking. With cigarettes, it’s the smoking of the cigarette that is the health threat. With DU it is the inhalation of insoluble DU oxide particles that is the main possible health threat, danger, risk, etc. The Army found a few chunks of DU from the Davy Crockett DU spotting rounds at PTA out of several hundreds, perhaps more than 2500 rounds that were fired. It’s not what they found that is my main concern although that should be cleaned up. It’s what they didn’t find. Where is the rest of the 292 pounds or perhaps more than a half ton of DU from the Davy Crocketts? Possibly vaporized by 40 years of bombing and carried with the wind?
I’m going to cite a recent statement by Dr. Lorrin Pang, MD, MPH, 24 yrs. in the Army medical core, consultant to the WHO, Maui County Public Health Officer, but speaking as a private citizen.
Dr. Pang said, “the Army previously assured us that soldiers exposed to high levels of inhaled DU oxides developed no illnesses. This has been reviewed by a group of independent researchers sponsored by the VA who showed that problems like tumors (benign and malignant) were ignored. Were other symptoms ignored as well in their obsession to “prove” safety? Because of this the Army has publicly lost credibility on the issue of DU health risks.”
Concerning PTA, Dr. Pang contends that this NRC process needs to be similar to an Environmental Impact Statement process. The users (the Army) need to investigate and show the impact on health, etc. The onus is on the Army to guarantee (within reason) the safety of their actions. The citizen should not have to show, and prove, harm. The NRC is the regulator, charged to protect public health. Now for some specifics.
I have always said and continue to say that we should follow the analogy of cigarettes. Until lit and inhaled cigarettes are not bad for you. When smoking is over there may be no more harmful effects but looking for ashes in the ash tray is evidence that someone previously smoked, was previously at risk for health effects. Looking for evidence of DUoxide dust NOW at PTA is evidence of a higher previous exposure. How much previous DUoxide dust and its effect PREVIOUSLY occurring is anyone’s guess. I hope that whatever was done previously does not occur again. This is the primary objective – but our government agencies make vague commitments. They will say that since we did not show harm previously they are free to use DU weaponry however they choose in the future. They are depending on our short memories to violate rules and principles set forth today.
Next the issue was raised if CURRENT levels of DU oxide dust are harmful. The two basic principles are to show 1) if PTA levels are higher than background and 2) if this excess level is related to health effects (attributable risk).
1) For the first principle for medical reasons I want to focus on inhalable radioactive compounds, especially the non-soluble DU oxides. While the test is not specific for DU oxides the comparison between Kona readings (zero elevated of 20,000 cpm readings) and Kilohana (Saddle Road/Mauna Kea Park) (4 of 500 cpm readings) is statistically very significant (P less than .0001 by Fishers exact test). This needs to be further investigated and is a “smoking gun” till proven otherwise.
2) Even if the above elevated radioactivity were due to DU oxides, what is the associated health risk? I don’t believe that this is known for inhaled DU oxides. Because of the much slower clearance from the body extrapolations cannot be made to soluble uranium forms. Dr. (Rosalie) Bertell, (PhD in Canada) would also argue about nano-toxicity from the nano forms of expended DU weapons. The military and its collaborators have repeatedly and publicly cited the friendly fire studies as the key guarantee of safe threshold levels for inhaled DUoxides. Not only has that study been shown to have seriously flawed methodology – but the manner in which it was used to mislead has damaged the credibility of all involved.
For a group of agencies which cited such tainted and flawed science to demand that the community shows good science to prove our case of harm is arrogant and against the principles of EIS. The Army says DU stays in the impact area, but they have only turned up a few pieces of the 300 to over l000 ponds of the Davy Crockett. Where is the rest? Where is the proof that’s it’s in the impact area?
Dr. Helen Caldicott, MD founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility (23,000 doctors) and founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War which was awarded the l985 Nobel Peace prize says quote DU “aerosolized particles that are inhaled… translocate to the thoracic lymph nodes, and are also deposited in bone, kidneys and excreted in semen where almost certainly the uranium can cause birth defects. It also causes bone cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, lymphoma, and kidney cancer.” end quote
I personally know three people within 18 miles of my home with lymphoma cancer. Two have died within the past year and a half, the other is in an advanced stage. Two of the three were close friends active with our organization. When family and friends die prematurely of cancer we too are harmed emotionally. It is not an easy thing to see friends die. According to the National Cancer Institute, State Cancer Profiles, the Island of Hawaii has the highest cancer statistics of all the Hawaiian islands. The cause is unknown. Could it be linked to DU from PTA? Possibly.
According to very recent figures coming out of Iraq, there is a 5-6 year latent period from exposure to cancer development there. The figures are now skyrocketing –6 years after the Shock & Awe of March 2003. In some cases increasing l800%.
The Davy Crockett DU at PTA, and possibly other DU used there, has been bombed and burned for 45 plus years.
My Response to NRC Question Two — Provide details of the May 29, 2007 monitor spike of 75cpm at Mauna Kea State Park
On May 29, 2007 our Malu ‘Aina peace organization sponsored a protest of the opening ceremony of the first section of the realigned Saddle Road from the Mauna Kea Access Rd to Mauna Kea State Park, a distance of approximately six miles. Our protest concerned several issues, one being the facilitating of more military live-fire training by rerouting the road in a northerly direction through a mamane forest which is a critical habitat for the endangered Palila bird.
On May 29, 2007, Guenter Monkowshi was conducting radiation monitoring with his gammascout monitor. The meter was new and set on alpha/beta/gamma. The same monitor had been used the prior month in South Kona for 20,000 minutes of monitoring and saw no spikes above 40cpm according to Dr. Pang’s analysis of the data. On May 29, 2007, his meter had been running for an hour with normal background around l5cpm readings. At about ll AM as I recall, the winds began to pick up coming directly from the south toward the park where about 2-3 dozen of us were peacefully protesting. I would guess the wind gusts were 20-30MPH or even more at times. There were dust devils with suspended dirt clearly visible in the air and Guenter’s monitor spiked at 75cpm. I was standing next to Guenter and saw the meter. Over the next 2-3 hours at various points along saddle Road there were 3 other spikes in the 40-60s range. That’s 4 spikes in a few hundred minutes and should be a smoking gun signal that requires more investigation.
These readings emphasize the importance of looking for spikes not mere averaging. State of Hawaii Department of Heath radiation chief, Russell Takata, has gone to take measurement is various spots on the Kona side. He only kept his meter on for 5 minutes at each site. That will not likely catch a spike. Longer periods of air monitoring are key.
In essence, my conclusion is that we were at the wrong place at the wrong time, meaning we were in the path of a radiation plume. Three months later, the Army confirmed DU was present on the range located l and l/2 miles from the park in line with the direction of the winds coming directly at us on May 27, 2009. Some form of radiation caused our monitor to spike, not once but 4 times in a relatively short time period. We were at PTA. The winds were coming off the impact ranges where DU was later confirmed to have been fired. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is likely a duck. President Obama recently talked about the failure to connect the dots. Whatever went into our monitor on May 29, 2007 likely went into our lungs. The burden is on the Army to rule out DU oxide. The burden should be on the Army to prove no harm. The Army says no harm has been shown but that’s because they haven’t looked and don’t want to look. Same from Vietnam with Agent orange. Same with Gulf War syndrome.
High wind gusts are common in the Saddle area between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.
The predominant trade winds are from north east to south west, but often by early afternoon the winds shift blowing from the west or south. At night, the winds generally come down off the mountains. (Wind conditions can be seen at the link below. http://www.weather.gov/data/obhistory/PHTO.html
Also see American Meteorological Society Journals Online
Evolution of Katabatic Flow on the Island of Hawaii by Jiuhua Feng and Yi-Leng Chen l0 August l990
The Army doesn’t even know the # of DU Davy Crockett spotting rounds fired at PTA. The Army’s records are poor to say the least. The range is from 714 to possibly over 2500. From about 290 pounds of DU to over a half ton. And that’s just for Davy Crockett. Then there is Greg Komp’s (Office of Army Safety’s) statement that “in the 50s and 60s it (DU) was used anytime we needed a heavy weight.” Then there was the 70s, 80s, and 90s when DU was NOT prohibited in training. Connect the dots. There could be tens of thousands of DU rounds fired at PTA, including DU bunker busters. There could be tons, tens of tons of DU at PTA.
We likely won’t know from Army records. But with thorough proper independent testing and monitoring we should learn the truth. What we need is good science. And we don’t have that at this point from the U.S. Army and we won’t get it from the U.S. Army. It must come from truly independent sources.
My Response to NRC Question Three — concerning visits to Mauna Kea Park
Mauna Kea State park is presently across the street from Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA). Prior to May 27, 2007, the day of the high spike radiation readings, the Saddle Road traveled through the PTA base for about l2-l4 miles and still does now west of the main gate area.
Prior to May 27, 2007, the road came within l/2 mile of the eastern most range (I believe Range l0) at PTA where DU has been confirmed. On that section of the road which was used by the public for 4 decades, there were signs posted “Live artillery overhead” or “live-firing overhead”.
For 30 years while driving the cross island Saddle Rd highway, I and family and friends, would always stop at Mauna Kea State park to picnic and use the rest rooms. In years past I spent several nights at the cabins in the park, including nights when it was hard to get any sleep because of live firing taking place at PTA.
Over the years I’ve participated in numerous Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) cultural and religious ceremonies at Mauna Kea Park and nearby at the Hawaiian ahu (altar) located at the junction of Saddle Rd and the Mauna kea access road. I have also gone to the summit of Mauna Kea for numerous ceremonies while elders and others who couldn’t handle the high altitude gather and stay at Mauna Kea Park and conduct ceremonies there.
Over 30 years I’ve hiked both Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai mountains extensively, hiking to the summits and other trails in the Waiakea Forest and to King Umi’s temple.
Years back I probably traveled the Saddle Rd cross island once a month. In more recent years it’s less. On average we have 3 yearly healing ceremonies for the land and protests of live-fire training at PTA, another couple ceremonies on Mauna Kea and other trips cross island and occasional hikes that results in travel through the Saddle Area. Mauna Kea Park is always a stopping point or rallying point, although we go to other places along Saddle Rd for live-fire protests. We have built an Hawaiian ahu on the PTA base at Pu’u Ka Pele where we have placed ho’okupu (offerings) for the healing of the land. The duration of the visits for ceremonies or a rally is roughly 2-4 hours, longer if we are hiking in the area.
I have also attended a military press briefing on PTA and was transported to the firing range to observe howitzer live firing. I also organized a group briefing and tour of PTA for visiting students, Hawaiian, and environmental activists during the Stryker EIS process.
There have been reports of animals with tumors downwind of PTA. A hunter friend, Luna Hauanio phone 808-3l5-0677 who has hunted extensively in the Pohakuloa area and the normal down stream air flow area from PTA toward Hualalai and Keahou mauka has informed me of numerous abdominal and throat tumors in pigs, goats and sheep hunted in the area. Luna Hauanio worked work 22 years with the sheriffs department and is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) very much concerned about traditional and customary rights and hunting which is important to many people for subsistence.
My Closing Statement
For most of this hearing we, the petitioners, have responded to questions from you, the judges. Now I have a question for you to ponder. How far are you this minute from PTA live-fire training areas where DU presence is known? I suspect the answer is around 5,000 miles to Rockville Maryland. There is something wrong with this picture. You in Rockville, Maryland are preparing to judge if we who live on this island having standing and if our contentions about military depleted uranium on our island home have any merit.
The Army’s application for a DU license doesn’t say a word about DU moving off site. It’s all neatly packaged and stays in the bombing impact area? Yeah right.
Around l980 the Knolls Power Lab technitions monitoring atmospheric radiation picked up the DU oxide from Colonie, NY over 25 miles away. Nine days after the Tora Bora bombings in Afghanistan, and Shock and Awe DU bombings of Bagdhad, the sophisticated radiation monitors at Aldermaston in England recorded a big persistent spike of radiation lasting several days. Everyone in the northern hemisphere has legal standing when it comes to DU, and maybe the southern hemisphere as well. We’re all in this together.
If you –the NRC license the Army to possess DU on site, and citizens turn up DU off site, you will have a lot of poison DU egg on your face. But we the residents of Hawaii will be breathing and eating the poison dust. That’s why if you are going to issue a license it better be with strict transparent monitoring and testing done with the guidance of Dr. Lorrin Pang and Dr. Mike Reimer to insure the confidence of the community. And all the live-fire and other activity that creates dust must be stopped until there is a comprehensive assessment of the entire PTA base for DU contamination. Military maps of PTA have written on them in capital letters: “ALL OF PTA SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A DUD HAZARD AREA.” The same is true for DU. All of PTA should be considered a DU hazard area and any activity that may disperse that DU should be prohibited.
DU can travel off base from wind, fire, explosions, vehicles, and rain. The NRC may not be able to prohibit wind, fire and rain, but it can prohibit explosions and vehicles on PTA.
On average, the bases across the US covered by the Army’s license request correlate with higher cancer incidences, same as Viegues in Puerto Rico and other sites with DU contamination, especially Iraq and Afghanistan. The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009 an increase of l800 percent.
Cancer – The Deadly Legacy Of The Invasion Of Iraq
Dr. Helen Caldicottt has said: “The incidence of childhood cancer in Basra (Iraq) has increased 700% since (DU) weapons were used there in 1991 and the incidence of severe congenital malformations has also risen 700%. Uranium particles will contaminate the cradle of civilization for eternity inducing more and more cancer, especially in children, genetic diseases and congenital malformations. Such US military policy is beyond a war crime.”
According to the National Cancer Institute web site – here is the overall cancer rates for the counties were Davy Crockett spotting rounds have been used.
Fort Benning, Georgia (* Chatahoochee County- 2nd highest category in state)
Fort Campbell, Kentucky (Christian – lowest)
Fort Carson, Colorado (El Paso – 2nd highest)
Fort Hood Texas (Bell – 2nd highest)
Fort Knox Kentucky (Meade- 2nd highest)
Fort Lewis Wash. (Pierce- 1st highest)
Pohakuloa/PTA Hawai’i (1st highest)
O’ahu (2nd highest)
Fort Riley Kansas (Geary- no data)
fyi: Jefferson Proving Ground (Jefferson/Ripley – 2nd highest)
Yuma ” (Yuma – 4th highest)
Aberdeen ” (no data)
I am well aware that if this appeal by citizens falls on deaf ears of the NRC for action to protect public health and safety, I will have participated in a proceeding that can be categorized as a fraud.
You, the NRC are suppose to be the regulator of the nuclear industry. Don’t fail us like the Wall St. and Mortgage banker regulators failed us. You job is to protect the public health against the military/nuclear industrial complex. Put the burden where it belongs, not on the citizen to prove harm, but on the military/nuclear industrial complex to prove that it is safe. They have not done so.
A note on conflict of interest: Wall St. Bank regulators got rich off the very banks they were later charged to regulate but failed to do properly. Is the same true of the Nuclear industry regulators– the NRC? As ordinary citizens we do what we can to speak truth to power, realizing the deck is stacked against us, as these proceedings certainly demonstrate in a manner that is crystal clear.
In any event, the actions that are warranted remain:
l. Stop all live-fire and dust creating activities at PTA and support the other 7 points called for by the Hawaii County Council in Resolution 639-08 and resolution 70l-08 naming Dr. Lorrin Pang as the official county representative on the DU issue with the Army. The points in Resolution 639-08 all support the precautionary principle.
2. The entire PTA base needs to be thoroughly tested and monitored independently with guidance from Dr. Lorrin Pang and Dr. Mike Reimer.
3. A thorough clean up and decommissioning of these military complexes is necessary to protect our health.
4. There needs to be transparency and community input throughout the process. Otherwise there will be a vote of no confidence by the community as the WHT poll on PTA already underscores.
The Pentagon dirty bombers in paradise must be stopped. The land must be returned (cleaned) to its rightful owners –the independent nation of Hawaii.
With gratitude and aloha,
Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action
Kurtistown, Hawai’i 96760
Visit us on the web at: www.malu-aina.org