Bellows Landfill cleaned up?

Waimanalo community leaders invite supporters to attend the ceremony for the blessing of the fishpond:

Saturday, February 21, 2009, Meet up at 8:45 am at the Jack in the Box in Waimanalo. Then proceed to the Bellows gate.  Hawaiian flags and signs encouraged.  Bring cameras.  Urge the return of the fishpond to Kanaka Maoli. Contact: Kawehi at

The military issued a press release today claiming that the clean up of a landfill at Bellows Beach in Waimanalo was complete.  See the article in today’s Honolulu Advertiser below.  But there’s more to this story.   The Waimanalo community fought to get the site cleaned up.  The Air Force initially planned to cap it.  But a clue to what may have tipped the scale to get the clean  up moving is contained in the article:

The Marine Corps then requested funding to remove the landfill in order to use the previously unusable training area

On a recent visit to the clean up site sponsored by the Waimanalo Restoration Advisory Board, we saw the oily water and soil that was excavated from the beach.  We also saw remnants of a loko i’a, an ancient Hawaiian fishpond, the first actual physical evidence of fishponds in Waimanalo to corroborate oral histories.  However the walls of the loko i’a were buried under other parts of the base and would not be restored, only reburied.   The military apparently used the walls of the fishpond to contain their landfill during the 1940s. The Waimanalo community is calling for the fishpond to be restored and returned to the Kanaka Maoli people.

We also learned that practice munitions and the shells from live munitions were found improperly disposed of in the landfill.  When asked, the contractors said that they did not test for the chemical constituents from munitions.  So we don’t know whether the soil and water were contaminated with munitions residue.  The other shocking news was that the contaminated soil from the landfill was being trucked to Nanakuli and dumped in the PVT landfill.  Wai’anae residents were unhappy when they learned that military contamination was being moved from one Hawaiian community to another.

There are several other contaminated sites in Waimanalo. One that the Air Force has refused to address is a cave known from Hawaiian legends, that was used for a dump.   Despite persistent efforts of the Kanaka Maoli community to restore the cave, the Air Force insists that it cannot reopen a project that has been closed without special legislation to do so.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bellows Beach landfill cleanup done

Advertiser Staff

Kaneohe Marines, Air Force personnel and Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono will be at a brief blessing ceremony tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. to mark completion of the clean-up of a former landfill at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, the Marines said today in a news release.

The landfill, known as “LF24” was located on property previously assigned to the U.S. Air Force, then transferred to the Marine Corps in 1999. As part of the transfer process, the Air Force was required to conduct environmental investigations.

These investigations determined the site was not eligible for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) funding. The Marine Corps then requested funding to remove the landfill in order to use the previously unusable training area, as well as prevent any buried refuse at the site from unintentionally eroding into the ocean.

Waimanalo residents lobbied the military services to clean up the site, and the requested funds were eventually made available in August, 2007, when Hirono helped earmark $2M in Marine Corps funds to clean up the World War II era landfill. The Marines received the $2M in December 2007 and immediately transferred these funds to the Air Force, whose familiarity with the site and expertise were well documented.

The Air Force selected CH2M Hill as the contractor for the clean-up based on their qualifications and familiarity with the site. Part of the contract emphasized sub-contracting local small businesses. In all, of the 13 sub-contractors used for the project, 11 were based in Waimanalo or the Hawaiian Islands.

The Air Force’s Environmental Restoration department at Hickam Air Force Base led the project and hosted Marines from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, the Hawaii Dept. of Health, members of the Waimanalo community and other key organization personnel as part of a Key Stakeholders Working Group which helped with project oversight.


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