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64 Drone Bases in the U.S., including two in Hawai’i

June 14, 2012 

Public Intelligence produced an interactive map and table of known U.S. drone bases within the U.S.  Hawai’i is listed as having two such bases: Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay has the Raven drone.  Wheeler Army Airfield has the Shadow.

Wired magainze reported “Revealed: 64 Drone Bases on American Soil” (June 13, 2012)

We like to think of the drone war as something far away, fought in the deserts of Yemen or the mountains of Afghanistan. But we now know it’s closer than we thought. There are 64 drone bases on American soil. That includes 12 locations housing Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles, which can be armed.

One concern raised is the use of drones on U.S. domestic populations:

The possibility of military drones (as well as those controlled by police departments and universities) flying over American skies have raised concerns among privacy activists. As the American Civil Liberties Union explained in its December 2011 report, the machines potentially could be used to spy on American citizens. The drones’ presence in our skies “threatens to eradicate existing practical limits on aerial monitoring and allow for pervasive surveillance, police fishing expeditions, and abusive use of these tools in a way that could eventually eliminate the privacy Americans have traditionally enjoyed in their movements and activities.”

As Danger Room reported last month, even military drones, which are prohibited from spying on Americans, may “accidentally” conduct such surveillance — and keep the data for months afterwards while they figure out what to do with it. The material they collect without a warrant, as scholar Steven Aftergood revealed, could then be used to open an investigation.

As with Osprey accidents that were discussed in a previous post, another danger of drones may be the number of accidents.  Nick Turse has compiled interesting information about drone accidents here and here. Just this week, Wired reported, “Navy Loses Giant Drone in Maryland Crash” (June 11, 2012):

The Navy was all set to roll out its upgraded spy drone, a 44-foot behemoth. Then one of its Global Hawks crashed into an eastern Maryland marsh on Monday. It’s the latest setback for the Navy’s robotic aircraft.

An unarmed RQ-4A Global Hawk went down during a training exercise near the Naval aviation base at Patuxent River, Maryland on Monday, CNN reports. Local news has footage of the wreckage. No one was hurt except the Navy’s pride.

Thanks to Jon Letman for sharing some of these links.

Osprey crashes, Japanese city rejects Osprey, and Marines want to bring Osprey to Hawai’i?

June 14, 2012 

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that”Marines’ copter plan raises fear of noise” (June 12, 2012):

The public has nearly a month to weigh in on Marine Corps plans to station MV-22 tiltrotor Osprey and H-1 Cobra and Huey attack-utility helicopter squadrons at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, but any community opposition likely will boil down to a single topic, according to the secretary of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board.

“In one word,” said Bill Sager, “it’s the noise.”

[. . .]

“Several people have expressed concerns to me,” he said.

While the Marines opened a 30-day comment period on their proposals last week, “People will have no way of evaluating the noise impact of an Osprey until they actually hear it,” Sager said.

It seems a  major concern for us in Hawai’i ought to be safety.   Today, an CV-22 Osprey crashed in Florida, injuring five: 

An Air Force CV-22 Osprey crashed Wednesday during a routine training mission north of Navarre, Florida, injuring five crew members aboard, a military official said.

In April two U.S. troops died in an Osprey crash in Morocco.   Last March, a Marine pilot died and radioactive strontium 90 was released into Kane’ohe Bay when helicopter crashed on Ahu o Laka sandbar in the bay.

Okinawans have been strongly opposing the stationing of Osprey aircraft.  The city of Iwakuni on the main island of Honshu was proposed as a temporary base for the Osprey until facilities were available in Okinawa.  However, Japan Today reports that “Iwakuni balks at U.S. deployment of Osprey aircraft” (June 13, 2012):

Safety concerns after a recent crash have put plans to briefly deploy the U.S. Osprey aircraft to a city in Yamaguchi Prefecture on hold, officials said Tuesday.

Opposition to the plan to temporarily base the helicopter-like planes in the city of Iwakuni has been rising since the fatal crash in April left two Marines dead in Morocco.

Japan’s defense minister said Tuesday he may go to the city of Iwakuni to persuade local officials to accept the temporary deployment. But after meeting with ministry officials on Monday Iwakuni’s mayor said he needs more assurances that the aircraft is safe.

The Marine Corps released a Final Environmental Impact Statement on its proposals on the basing and statewide training of Osprey tiltrotor and Cobra and Huey attack-utility helicopter squadrons.   The 30-day comment period began Friday June 8.  The proposal is to expand the Marine Corps in Hawai’i :

  • 24 MV-22 Osprey aircraft
  • 18 AH-1Z Viper Super Cobra helicopters
  • 9 UH-1Y Huey helicopters
  • 1,000 Military personnel
  • 1,106 Family members

The Marine Corps helicopter Environmental Impact Statement can be viewed at:

  • Written comments on the EIS must be postmarked or received online by July 11 to become part of the official rec ord.
  • Comments can be made online by selecting the “contact” tab at www.mcbh.usmc.mil/mv22h1eis/ index.html or by mail to: Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific 258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100 Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134 Attn: EV21, MV-22/H-1 EIS Project Manager

 

Nuclear sub fire in Maine reminder that Hawai’i had close calls in the past

June 14, 2012 

As Ka’ala Farm begins to recuperate from the recent fire that started on Lualualei Naval Reservation, burned 1200 acres of Wai’anae shrubland, and destroyed irrigation pipe and the traditional hale pili (grass thatched structure), and as Hawai’i braces for the onslaught of RIMPAC, I was reminded of another fire May 23 that nearly destroyed a high tech U.S. submarine in Maine.

Seven people were injured in the blaze aboard the nuclear-powered submarine the USS Miami as it was docked at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine.  The news media reported that “Cause of USS Miami fire narrowed to vacuum” (June 9, 2012):

U.S. Navy investigators said it was not a malfunction within the vacuum cleaner that caused the fire aboard the USS Miami on May 23. Rather, something hot was sucked into a vacuum cleaner that subsequently ignited materials within.

Moreover, the Navy said in statement released Friday, the vacuum cleaner should have been emptied. Navy Public Affairs said shipyards “are directed to empty … vacuum cleaners each shift, or remove them from the ship.”

According to a statement released by the public affairs office at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the fire started with a “heat source” that was vacuumed up, “igniting debris in the vacuum cleaner.”

The Navy estimated the cost of the damage to be $400 million.  Plus,:

The Navy estimated that an additional 10 percent cost — or $40 million more — would be needed to account for disruption to other planned work across all naval shipyards and for potential assistance from private sector contractors, the shipyard said.

A shipyard source told me that the temperature outside the ballast reached more than 400 degrees F, which means that the fire was much hotter inside.  This source said that surely a fire of that  intensity would have damaged the temper of the steel.  This person said that they would not go underwater in the sub.  “It would probably be full of tiny cracks.”

The Navy said that there was never a danger of a meltdown of the sub’s nuclear reactor.   But in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, which continues to spew radioactive pollution, should we not be skeptical of such assurances?

Pearl Harbor already has 19 nuclear subs, with 5 more on the way.

In the past, we have had close calls with submarine near nuclear disasters.  In 1960 there was fire aboard the USS Sargo docked in Pearl Harbor.  The captain intentionally sunk the ship to extinguish the fire. A sailor was killed.  Had there been a nuclear reactor meltdown, I dread to think about the consequences.

New F-22 rules leave Guard in holding pattern

May 17, 2012 

In an earlier post, I reported on the lawsuit filed against Lockheed Martin, manufacturer of the F-22, by the widow of an F-22 pilot who died in a crash in Alaska in 2010.   As William Cole reports in today’s Honolulu Star Advertiser “New F-22 rules leave Guard in holding pattern” (May 16, 2012), the number of reported cases of pilot hypoxia (lack of oxygen) among F-22 pilots is widespread, forcing the Pentagon to impose flight restrictions on all F-22s.

The Hawaii Air National Guard was waiting on orders Tuesday to see whether its F-22 Raptor fighters would be affected after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta imposed new flight restrictions — the latest setback for the costly and controversial jet.

The Pentagon said that effective immediately, all F-22 flights would remain within the “proximity” of potential landing locations to enable quick recovery and landing should a pilot experience hypoxialike symptoms, or not being able to get enough oxygen.

The Hawaii Air Guard and active-duty Air Force fly and maintain 14 of the stealthy jets at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, with the arrival of the six remaining Raptors to Hawaii — rounding out the squadron of 20 aircraft — delayed for unexplained reasons.

There have been other pilots coming forward to express their concerns about the Raptor:

According to the news program “60 Minutes,” which recently aired a segment about two Virginia Air National Guard pilots who stepped forward to discuss hypoxia incidents and concerns about the safety of the F-22, 36 of 200 Raptor pilots — or about 18 percent — have experienced problems.

Capt. Josh Wilson, one of those pilots, said he noticed issues on a flight in February 2011.

“Several times during the flight I had to really concentrate, immense concentration on doing just simple, simple tasks,” he said. Wilson said he thinks the problem stems from not getting the quality or quantity of oxygen needed, or there is contamination in the air flow.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said Tuesday that seven more airmen who work with the F-22, including flight surgeons, have come forward to report cases of hypoxialike symptoms, Air Force Times reported.

The Hawaii Air National Guard reports that there have been “no official complaints, no incidents” involving Hawai’i F-22 pilots.   But this latest order marks only the latest setback for this expensive, some would say extravagant and unnecessary, fighter jet.

The Raptor, the Air Force’s most advanced fighter, is also the most expensive fighter jet ever, with a total program cost of $77.4 billion, or $412 million a plane with research and development and upgrades.

The Air Force has not been able to pinpoint the cause of the hypoxia, which began cropping up in 2008.

[…]

The Air Force’s entire Raptor fleet was grounded twice in 2011 over hypoxia concerns, including a nearly five-month stand-down.

Army sergeant sentenced for fatal hit-and-run incident

May 14, 2012 

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “Hit-and-run driver sentenced” (May 11, 2012):

A state judge sentenced the hit-and-run driver who killed 18-year-old bicyclist Zachary Manago to the maximum 10-year prison term Thursday for leaving the scene of the fatal traffic accident in 2010.

In addition, Circuit Judge Edward H. Kubo Jr. ordered Army Sgt. Doug­las Curtis to pay Manago’s mother $4,233 for her son’s funeral expenses and to pay $500 into a state special fund for neurotrauma victims.

[…]

Curtis is also facing discharge from the Army because he cannot remain in the military with a felony conviction, his lawyer Jonathan Burge said.

Accidents, Rapes, Murders, Suicides, Guns and Explosives

January 7, 2012 

Here is a sampling of recent news stories related to crimes and accidents involving military personnel.

The city Medical Examiner’s Office today identified the 27-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier who died in a motorcycle accident Thursday as Aaron Bennett.

Bennett, from Parma Heights Ohio, died at the crash scene on Fort Weaver Road near the recently closed Hawaii Medical Center-West. Witnesses told police that he was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic before losing control and crashing at about 5:30 a.m.

Bennett was an Army sergeant who joined the service in January 2007, and served as an infantrymen assigned to 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, according to the Army.

In June, he finished a year-long deployment to Iraq with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, where he was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, an Army Commendation Medal and the Iraqi Campaign Medal with two campaign stars for his service.

[…]

The 2009 Yamaha motorcycle he was driving apparently sideswiped a 2001 Nissan sedan near the Farrington Highway junction, causing the motorcyclist to lose control, police said.

Bennett, a 25th Infantry Division soldier, was thrown from the vehicle and slid about 30 feet into a guardrail, severing his arm.

And KITV reported that “Man Commits Apparent Suicide In Police Custody: 27-year-old Schofield Resident Arrested For Drunk Driving Saturday Morning” (1/07/2012):

A 27-year-old Schofield man was found dead in a Wahiawa Police Substation holding cell from an apparent suicide Saturday morning.The man was arrested around 4:10 Saturday morning for drunk driving, reckless driving and speeding near Kamehameha Highway and Whitemore Avenue.He was then booked and processed at the Wahiawa Substation. His body was found alone and unconscious in the holding cell around 7 a.m. with his t-shirt next to him. It is believed that he hung himself with the shirt.

[…]
Police say the man is a husband of a Schofield based soldier.

In San Diego, four people were killed in an apparent murder-suicide involving two Navy pilots and the sister of one of the pilots. The AP reported “2 Navy Pilots Among Dead in Murder, Suicide” (1/03/2012):

Two Navy pilots and the sister of one of them were among four people killed in an apparent New Years Day murder-suicide on the wealthy island of Coronado off the coast of San Diego, officials say.

The two F/A-18 pilots were in training at the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, the base said. The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office initially posted on its website that the pilots were both 25-year-old males and that a third male among the dead was a 31-year-old resident of nearby Chula Vista.

The AP also reported that “Jealousy Eyed for Possible Role in Murder-Suicide” (1/06/2012):

Authorities were looking at all aspects of what could have led up to the gunfire at a Coronado condominium, including whether there was a relationship or romantic feelings between the Navy pilot who committed suicide and the sister of the other pilot who died, sheriff’s Capt. Duncan Fraser said.

John Robert Reeves shot himself in the head, and the three other people with him, including the sister, were murdered. They included Navy pilot David Reis, Karen Reis and Matthew Saturley.

[…]

Retired Naval pilot Steve Diamond said the case is shocking because it involves such high achievers.

“The first thing that most people think of even within the Navy community is how could such an enormously tragic thing happen involving people … who are the cream of the crop, highly trained, highly educated, national assets basically,” he said.

It takes years of training to get one’s wings as a Navy pilot, and fighter-jet pilots are considered to be among the top in that group.

They undergo a battery of rigorous physical, psychological and background tests before finishing the highly competitive program. Their top-notch skills and mental toughness were featured in the movie “Top Gun” — parts of which were filmed at Miramar.

Despite the recent dismissal of Cioca v. Rumsfeld, a class action lawsuit to hold Secretaries of Defense Rumsfeld and Gates accountable for the epidemic of sex assault in the military, another Navy commander was convicted for raping two female sailors. The AP reported “Navy Cmdr Gets Prison in Rape of Female Sailors” (10/29/2011):
A Navy ship commander pleaded guilty Friday to sexual assault and rape of two female sailors, and a military judge ordered his dismissal and sentenced him to more than three years in prison.

Cmdr. Jay Wylie was given a 10-year term but will serve 42 months as part of a plea agreement, said Sheila Murray, Navy spokeswoman.

[…]

Twenty officers have been relieved of command by the Navy this year.

It seems that the epidemic of sexual violence begins in officer training school.  The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that “3 Air Force Academy Cadets Charged in Sex-Assault Cases” (1/06/2012):

Commanders on Thursday charged three Air Force Academy cadets with sexual assault in separate cases that occurred over the past 15 months.

Charging documents obtained by The Gazette show the three cases involve acts allegedly committed on the campus, including acts against fellow cadets.

Meanwhile, the military is losing control of its weapons and explosives.  The AP reported that “US Rep.: Soldier Had 5 Pounds of C4 in Carry-On” (1/06/2012):
A congressman says two 2.5-pound blocks of a powerful, military-grade explosive were found in a Soldier’s luggage at a West Texas airport. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway of Midland said Thursday that federal officials gave him details of the Saturday find in Trey Scott Atwater’s luggage at Midland International Airport.

And the Daily Press in Victorville, California reported in December “Military Weapons in Gangsters’ Hands” (12/05/2011):

Gangs are acquiring highpowered, military-grade weapons more frequently, according to the latest National Gang Intelligence Center Report. And FBI and law enforcement officials suggest gang members — both enlisted and those working at military bases as contract civilians — may be funneling the firearms to their street-level counterparts.

In late July, 27 AK-47s were stolen from a Fort Irwin warehouse, officials said.

Weapons getting loose could be really bad.  In San Diego, the AP reported “Police: Navy SEAL Accidentally Shoots Self in Head” (1/06/2012):

San Diego police say a Navy SEAL is on life support after accidentally shooting himself in the head.

Officer Frank Cali tells U-T San Diego that officers were called to a home in Pacific Beach early Thursday morning on a report that a man had been playing with a gun and accidentally shot himself.

Cali says the man was showing guns to a woman he’d met earlier at a bar and put a pistol he believed was unloaded to his head. Cali says he then pulled the trigger.

Marines Expose an Untold Number of People to Radiation at the Kane’ohe bay sandbar

September 8, 2011 

Autumn.  Low tide. A group of people wading in shallow water in a row dangling line over the water.  Must be oama (baby goatfish) season, right?

Wrong. These guys are not fishing for oama. These men are workers from the state of Hawaii Department of Health absurdly conducting a radiation screening of Ahu o Laka (Kane’ohe Bay sandbar) with radiation monitors hanging over the surface of the water.  The state admits that its radiation monitors are not the right tool for surveying underwater contamination.

Photo: Carroll Cox/ carrollcox.com

Why are they screening for radiation at the popular recreational site?

In March, a Marine Corps helicopter crashed on the sandbar, killing one crew and injuring several others.  What the Marines never reported was that the helicopter components included a radioactive isotope Strontium-90, the same bone-attacking radiological substance spewed over the Pacific by the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.   You see, Strontium-90 is chemically related to Calcium, which it mimics when ingested into the body.   Once inside bone tissue, the nasty little particles of radiation emitted from the decay of the isotope can wreak havoc on tissue, cells, and genes in very close proximity over a sustained period of time.

When another CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter crashed into a university in Okinawa in 2004, Okinawan public safety crews and media and residents were forcefully excluded from the vicinity of the crash.   Many were concerned that Depleted Uranium often used as counterweights on the rotors were a public health hazard.  However, it appears that depleted uranium is used in the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, but only Strontium 90 is used in the CH-53 Sea Stallion.

Environmental investigator and activist Carroll Cox received a tip that radioactive substances were released by the crash and that rescue and salvage workers and public users of the bay may have been exposed to the hazardous material without their knowledge.   He notified state officials, who were  unaware of the public health hazard, as well as the media.  Media reports on the radiation contamination can be read here, here, here and here.

Carroll writes on his blog:

Sources alerted The Carroll Cox Show, that civilian employees within the United States Marine Corps Environmental Department knowingly and intentionally withheld critical information about the presence of the radioactive isotope from the state, the workers at the crash site, and the public. Their actions caused the possible exposure of an untold number of people to radiation as they retrieved parts, looked for clues to the crash, contained leaking fuel, removed the aircraft from the site and assessed environmental impact, because they were working without protective gear.

The civilian support staff made the decision to not tell the workers even though the marine squadron that assigned the helicopter advised them that the aircraft contained IBIS units and they should treat the site as a hazardous waste spill.

Cox sent a series of questions to the Marine Corps and received a canned response. Here’s the correspondence between Cox and Marine Corps Public Affairs Officer Major Crouch:

Questions we asked the Marine Corps:

Did the aircraft contain radioactive materials as part of its cargo? If yes, what was the material and the quantity?

Did the aircraft’s rotors contain deicers or a safety In-flight Blade Inspection System (IBIS)? If yes, how many were there? Were all of the IBIS’s recovered? If yes, when were they recovered?

Were any of the radiated materials recovered and placed in a survival raft at the crash site? Were geiger counters used to recover the IBIS’s? Where were the IBIS’s stored once they were removed from the crash site?

How much strontium-90 is contained in each IBIS unit? Were any of the IBIS units damaged? If yes, what degree of damage was noted? Did any of the strontium -90 get released into the environment? if yes, how much?

Did your agency inform the public, first responders and all recovery personnel that the downed aircraft contained IBIS with strontium-90? If yes when and how was this accomplished? If not, why?

Why did your agency representative, Mr. Randall Hu, not disclose that the IBIS units contained strontium-90 during his appearances on television and other news accounts, and only expressed concerns about the fuel that the craft contained?

Did the location and recovery of the IBIS units cause the Marines to delay the removal of the downed aircraft?

In several news accounts it was reported that “the Marines were to comb the bay looking for any metal scraps and inspect the area for any environmental damage”. Were these Marines wearing the proper safety gear to search and retrieve strontium-90, the IBIS units or other radioactive materials?

What was the final disposition of the IBIS’s or strontium-90?

Is it the opinion of the United States Marine Corps that the presence of strontium-90 aboard aircrafts that have crashed are not an environmental hazard requiring public reporting? If no, why not?

Did your agency meet with management of the Honolulu Fire Department to discuss the failure of your agency to notify them of the presence of strontium-90 aboard the downed aircraft? If yes, please provide a copy of their concerns and the Marine Corps’ response?

Were members of the recovery teams screened for exposure to strontium-90? If yes, when and by whom? If no, why not?

Is the Marine Corps conducting any type of monitoring for the presence of strontium-90 at and around the crash site? If yes, what are the results? If no, why not?

Did The Marine Corps notify the Hawaii State Department of Conservation or other agencies that the downed aircraft was equipped with IBIS’s or other parts containing strontium-90?

If yes, when and how were the each of the agencies notified? Please provide copies of the notification.

———————————————————————————————————————

The answer we received from Major Crouch:

Subject: CARROLL COX SHOW – QUERY RE: CH-53D MISHAP

From: “Crouch Maj Alan F” <alan.crouch@usmc.mil>

Date: Thu, September 01, 2011 4:34 pm

Aloha Mr. Cox, Marine Corps Base Hawaii takes its obligation to protect personnel, the public and the ‘āina very seriously. Our first responsibility after the tragic mishap on March 29 was the rescue of personnel in the downed helicopter. Rescue responders included the Marine Corps Base Hawaii Waterfront Operations, aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard and Army and the Honolulu Fire Department, as well as another CH-53D from MCAS Kaneohe Bay.

Almost immediately, base personnel placed a floating containment boom around the site to prevent the spread of petroleum fluids. Shortly thereafter, base and squadron personnel, with assistance from Navy, Coast Guard and state personnel, began the process of recovering the remains of the helicopter while an aviation mishap board conducted its investigation.

During the recovery efforts, some aircraft components were found to have a low level of contamination. All materials found to be contaminated were decontaminated or appropriately contained here on base. All personnel involved in the handling of any contaminated material were screened to verify they were not contaminated.

The low levels of radiation previously detected pose no significant health or environmental risk and were not of a reportable quantity. The site on the sand bar where the helicopter rested was inspected both during and after the salvage and recovery of the aircraft as a precautionary measure. No radiological contamination was found at the site.

Regards,

Maj. Alan Crouch Director,

Public Affairs Office

Marine Corps Base Hawaii

(808) 257-8840/-8870

In other words, the Marine Corps dodged nearly all the questions.

But it gets even worse.  The Marines lost the raft containing the radioactive parts.  The raft drifted around Kane’ohe Bay for some time before it was found by residents near the bay:

On Sunday, September 4, after our broadcast we learned the raft used to hold and transport the IBIS units and radioactive waste came lose from its mooring at the crash site, floated around Kaneohe Bay, and ended up by Kamehameha Hwy. A number of citizens came in contact with the raft.

Here are the questions Mr. Cox sent to the Marine Corps about the lost raft:

September 5, 2011

Major Alan Crouch

United States Marine Corps

Dear Major Crouch;

It has been brought to our attention that the life raft used at the site of the US. Marine Corps CH53 helicopter crash on March 29, 2011, broke loose from its mooring and drifted from the crash site to a residential area along Kamehameha Hwy at Kaneohe Bay. It is our understanding that the U.S. Marine Corps used the raft to store and transport radioactive materials containing Strontium-90 from the helicopter. We also learned, and as you have confirmed, the raft containing the radioactive material was transported to the water ops pier at the Kanoehe Bay Marine Corps Base and stored for a period of time. Reportedly it leaked radioactive materials onto the pavement of the pier area, causing some 65 square feet of cement to be excavated. We would like to ask you the following questions regarding the raft:

1. What date did the raft become dislodged from the crash site and the Marines lose custody of the raft?

2. How many days was the raft adrift?

3. How did the marines learn the raft was missing?

4. Did any of the civilians who had the raft in their possession during the time it was adrift remove any of the materials contaminated with radiation or the IBIS components?

5. Did you screen the individuals for radiation contamination? If yes, what were the results?

6. Did the Marine Corps screen the area along Kamehameha Hwy where the raft was recovered from? If yes, what was the level?

7. We have a picture showing a civilian towing the raft by boat. Did you screen that individual for radiation contamination?

8. After the marines retrieved the raft from the civilian did the marines immediately take it the water ops area on the base?

9. Did you notify the surrounding community and the individuals that came in contact with the raft that it contained radioactive Strontium-90?

10. Will there be charges brought against any of the civilians for handling the raft and materials?

11. Did the Marine Corps notify the U.S. Coast Guard, the Dept. of Health, DLNR, or other agencies that the raft was missing for several days? If so, when and to whom was notification made?

I would appreciate it if you would please provide answers to my questions by Thursday, September 8.

Sincerely,

Carroll Cox

He has not yet received an answer. READ THE FULL ACCOUNT ON CARROLLCOX.COM.

Photo: Carroll Cox / carrollcox.com

In the photo above of the downed helicopter, you can see the orange life raft that was used to contain the radioactive IBIS parts.   This raft broke loose some time after this and drifted across Kane’ohe Bay, eventually reaching residential areas along the bay shore.

A contact who lives on the shores of Kane’ohe Bay in Kahalu’u saw the raft adrift while working on a canoe.

This incident underscores the hazards of such intensive military activity in Hawai’i, the inability of the military to manage the risks and the secrecy and lack of honesty of the military when dealing with the public.  To paraphrase our friends in Vieques, Puerto Rico, history does not permit us to trust what the military says.

This incident also highlights why we must stop the proposed expansion of helicopter and Osprey facilities and activities at Mokapu (Kane’ohe Marine base).

Another story about the radiation leak at Marine helicopter crash site

September 2, 2011 

KHON TV carried a story about  the radiation leak at the site of a fatal Marine Corps helicopter crash in Kane’ohe Bay:

Activist concerned about possible radioactive contamination at Kaneohe Sandbar

Reported by: Andrew Pereira
Updated: 8:28 am

KANEOHE- Environmental activist Carroll Cox says a helicopter that crashed onto the Kaneohe Sandbar on the evening of March 29, killing one marine and injuring three others, released radioactive material into the surrounding area.

Cox says he was informed a week-and-a-half ago by military sources that the CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter contained a device known as an In-flight Blade Inspection System, or IBIS.  Within the device are six half inch pellets that contain the radioactive isotope strontium-90, a known carcinogen with a half life of 29 years that’s easily absorbed by human bones.

“I’m told by sources that some did contaminate, that meant that these capsules were breeched,” Cox said in an interview with Khon2.  “I would like to see an independent entity sample that area.”

Cox believes the popular three acre sandbar should be off-limits ahead of the Labor Day weekend until the state Health Department and the Department of Land and Natural Resources can guarantee the public is not at risk.

“Sacrifice one holiday rather than sacrificing the untold numbers out there that may become exposed,” he said.

DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said testing of the sandbar where the helicopter went down would proceed Friday morning in an effort to reassure the public that all is safe.

“We’ll go out and do an assessment and make a determination later that day,” said Ward.

[…]

LEFT IN THE DARK

In a post accident report obtained by Cox, the Marine Corps notes the release of jet fuel, oil and hydraulic fluid from the downed helicopter, but there’s no mention of strontium-90.

David Henkin, chairman of the Kahaluu Neighborhood Board, said it’s disappointing the military chose to keep the release of radioactive material a secret, even if it posed no risk to the public.

“It’s disappointing that the marines didn’t report that to the community,” said Henkin, a Honolulu attorney.  “We’re about to go into the Labor Day weekend and there’s going to be a lot of families out there; we want to make sure that they’re safe.”

According to Cox, there is no evidence rescue personnel who rushed to the scene of the crash were told about the possibility of encountering radioactive material.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Man dies from heart attack playing ‘paintball’ at Bellows Air Force Station

July 10, 2011 

The Honolulu Star Advertiser reports:

A 25-year-old man participating in a “paintball exercise” at Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo collapsed in cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon and later died at a hospital, police said.

There were no apparent signs of foul play, police said.

The case is being handled by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, according to the Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office.

Marine who fell and died “did not like the Marines”

May 30, 2011 

The parents of Luke Monahan, a 19-year-old Marine who fell from a Waikiki hotel and died shortly afterward, spoke to the Honolulu Star Advertiser about the incident:

“He was quiet,” his mother said. “He wasn’t a bad kid. He just didn’t like to do homework. He said that if he went into the Marines he would get an education for free and get anything he wanted.”

[…]

“He did not like the Marines, but he seemed to be OK with Hawaii,” Eileen said.

But his mother refuses to come to Hawai’i to claim her son’s body:

“I hate that place. That place killed my son,” Eileen said. “I’m never going back there, ever. The Marines will ship his body to us.”

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