Contaminated Missile Sites

The Honolulu Advertiser carried a story about contaminated missile sites.  Hawai’i has several of these close missile silos, although it is not clear from the article whether any of the contaminated sites are in Hawai’i.   I am aware of Nike missile sites in Waimanalo beach, at Peacock Flats above Mokuleia, and another in Kahuku.    At a total projected cost of $400 million, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cleaning up former missile sites:

The corps has spent $116 million at 44 former Atlas and Titan intercontinental ballistic missile sites and 19 former Nike anti-aircraft missile sites from the early Cold War. The ICBM sites include 14 in Kansas, 10 in Nebraska, seven in Wyoming, seven in Colorado and two in Oklahoma. California, New Mexico, New York and Texas have one contaminated ICBM site each.

The main chemical hazard is trichloroethylene (TCE).  There is TCE and Perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination in the groundwater in Wahiawa and ‘Aiea due to military activities.

Exposure to high concentrations of the chemical could cause nervous system problems, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma and death, according to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. TCE also may cause cancer, other government agencies say.

TCE may have polluted many more missile sites than the corps is aware of.

The TCE standards were not established until after many of the closed  missile sites were evaluated for possible contamination.  This means that many sites may not have been evaluated for TCE contamination, but according to Lenny Siegel of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, we cannot count on the government to follow through on their own:

“They don’t look too hard for new contamination because if they do, they have to clean it up,” said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight in Mountain View, Calif.


Alan Martins

I have been working with a Veteran that had worked at the Nike Missile Site during the COLD WAR ERA here in Hawaii for 10 plus years as a technician. He has cancer of the blood as with a lot of other missile man that worked there. I’m trying to seek help for him to get treated by the VA. The VA as by there guide lines for all active duty personel to have 2 years of active duty. The VA fail to realize that these man worked the the system 24/7 for well over 2 years. If anyone out there has information regarding anything directly or indirectly relating to missile sites and man that have gotten CML Luekemia.

Richard M. Levine

A few acres of land in Mahwah NJ used to house a US Army Nike missile launching base with underground missile magazines—reinforced concrete and nearby blacktop. It was demolished around 1990. Today the field is very dense grass, but no trees. There were a long list of possible contaminants at Nike missile sites around the country including perchlorate, tricholroethylene, hydraulic fluid, radioactive material ?, diesel fuel, arsenic, chromium, lead, asbestos, etc. Why are there no trees growing on this property after all these years? This is a mystery to me, and I have years of gardening experience. What would allow grass to grow, but not allow trees to grow????

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