Report on the Army’s Pohakuloa DU Presentation Aug. 31, 2010

Jim Albertini wrote the following report on the protest and Army presentation regarding it’s depleted uranium health risk assessment for the Pohakuloa Training Area.  Meanwhile, KITV reports that:

The Army said it determined the majority of the 714 rounds containing radioactive waste were likely fired at Schofield barracks on Oahu, not the Big Island.

So, the hazard is greater on O’ahu.

KITV also reports that “The Army also said it’s working on cleaning up any depleted uranium residue in the training facility.”

But this is a lie. The Army has said that it would not clean up the DU contamination.

And despite the Army’s assurances that the DU contamination is safe, the Army safety waivers for access to the Schofield Range indicates that there is a very real danger.  The Big Island Weekly reported several weeks ago:

But the Army took a different position when representatives from several Native Hawaiian groups requested access to the West Range at Schofield Barracks on O’ahu on May 27. Before being allowed into Schofield, all were asked to sign a waiver of responsibility acknowledging, among other things, that they knew DU was potentially hazardous to their health.”

“I fully understand and by my signature acknowledge that I understand, West Range at Schofield Barracks is currently constructing the Battle Area Complex (BAX) which includes clean up of unexploded ordnance (UXO) including potential chemical warfare munitions (CWM) and depleted uranium (DU)…,” the waiver read, in part. “I understand that the ENTIRE RESERVATION IS DANGEROUS AND UNSAFE due to the presence of surface and subsurface UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE and DEPLETED URANIUM; that there may be hazardous conditions and ordnance on or under the surface of the Reservation; and that unexploded ordnance may explode nearby causing serious bodily harm, injury and death and that depleted uranium particles can be ingested from the soil or inhaled by airborne dust that may cause adverse health effects.” [Words capitalized as in original.]


Report on the Army’s Pohakuloa DU Presentation Aug. 31, 2010

Today’s Army presentation “By Invitation Only” at the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) about Baseline Human Health Risk Assessment for Depleted uranium (DU) was a real dog and pony show.  Of the 50-60 in attendance, it appeared that I was the only token opposition community member.  Most in attendance were military people of various types and military contractors, along with a scattering of elected officials including State House Reps Jerry Chang, Mark Nakashima, Faye Hanohano, Clifton Tsuji and County Council person Pete Hoffman. There may have been a few others that I did not recognize, but clearly there were a lot of people in military uniform –Army, Marines, and representatives of the Navy, perhaps Air Force too. A separate meeting was held for the press prior to the “invited guests” meeting

Prior to the 2PM presentation, nine community members held signs opposite the PTA main gate. Signs included: Stop Radiation Cover Up, Aloha Aina, Stop the Bombing, Military Swallowing Hawaii, Are you Breathing DU? DU Causes Cancer, birth defects, etc.  There were eleven screaming “Gathering of Eagles’ with over 30 large American flags hurling insults toward us on two bull horns from across Saddle Road. It’s amazing how disrespectful some people can be in the name of protecting “freedom & democracy” and “family values.”  Though Hawaii has paid a heavy price under US occupation, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan have it worse under U.S. bombs and widespread DU poisoning and destruction of their homes, infrastructure, and land.

The two highest ranking Army officials inside the meeting were Major General Michael J. Terry, Commanding Army General in Hawaii, and Col. Douglas Mulbury, Commander Garrison Hawaii.
The person who did the power point presentation was Greg Komp, Senior health physicist, Office of the Director of Army Safety, Washington, D.C. Komp is the same guy who was quoted in an Aug. 30,2007 Army News article (Army.Mil/News) who said, “Today DU is not used in military training, but in the 50s and 60s it was used anytime you needed a heavy weight.”   By his own admission there is reason to believe there is a lot more DU at PTA and other military ranges.  The Army said that DU has been banned in training since 1996.  But given the fact that Davy Crockett DU spotting rounds have been officially used in Hawaii since 1962 that leaves a lot of room for other DU rounds used besides Davy Crockett.

It appears that the Army really doesn’t want to know how much DU has been used at PTA.  It doesn’t want to risk having to shut down the base if it is determined that the presence of DU and the stew of other military toxins pose a threat to the health and safety of the troops who train at PTA and residents and visitors of Hawaii Island.  While the Army says that health and safety is the primary concern, in truth, it is continuing the military mission that trumps all other concerns. That’s why the community has been stonewalled from day one in this entire DU investigation.  The community has not been welcomed as equal partners.  The process has not been transparent and therefore the confidence of the community is sorely lacking when it comes to military assurances that ‘DU poses no health dangers.” Or that DU “hypothetically exposed persons are below EPA acceptable risk range.”

The military made health assurances to troops and residents in the early days of atmospheric atomic bomb testing, they said much the same thing about agent orange exposure during and after the war in Vietnam, Gulf War syndrome, etc. etc.. all to be proven eventually wrong, and in some cases deliberately misleading or lying to the troops and the public.

If the military really wants to be transparent, the Army need to come out of its bunker, its protected and controlled “Green Zone” on Hawaii Island, and meet and treat the people in the community with respect. They have repeatedly refused to participate in balanced public forums in the community. Democracy is not by invitation only.   The winds, dust devils, and vehicles that travel through Pohakuloa travel around this island.  Everyone on this island is potentially at risk from military radiation contamination at Pohakuloa which may be far greater than one weapon system called Davy Crockett.  We won’t know the truth until there is comprehensive independent monitoring and testing of the entire PTA base and what’s coming off that base.  Meanwhile, as a precaution, the military should respect the Hawaii County Council resolution passed July 2,2008 by a vote of 8-1 that called for a halt to all live fire and activities at PTA that create dust  until the DU present is cleaned up.  But the Army doesn’t want to clean up.  They want to leave the DU in place and continue bombing.  The Army talks the talk about being “environmental stewards, protecting the environment.” Let’s see how Green the Army really is.  It’s time to walk the talk and Stop the Bombing! Then clean up your mess, not only at PTA, but all over these islands, and return the land to the sovereign independent Nation of Hawaii.

Jim Albertini

Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action

P.O.Box AB

Kurtistown, Hawai’i 96760

phone: 808-966-7622


Visit us on the web at: <>


US Army: No Health Threat At Pohakuloa

Study Shows Low Radioactive Risk From Depleted Uranium

POSTED: 9:05 pm HST August 31, 2010

UPDATED: 11:36 pm HST August 31, 2010

Big Island, HAWAII — The U.S. Army said there is no health risk from depleted uranium to those working on or living near the Pohakuloa Training area on the Big Island.

The Army Tuesday allowed the media a first hand look at the area where depleted uranium is believed to have been used at Pohakuloa during weapons training between 1962 and 1965.

Nearly two years ago, the army took samples of the soil and Tuesday released the results of their analysis. They found the radiological risk at Pohakuloa was well below the Environmental Protection Agency’s acceptable risk of one in ten thousand.

“Their orders of magnitude are way below what the EPA and NRC considers to be a risk to either humans or the environment,” said Greg Komp, radiation safety officer with the U.S. Army Safety Office.

The Davy Crockett Weapons System was classified at the time, so much of the research had to be done by digging through records.

The Army said it determined the majority of the 714 rounds containing radioactive waste were likely fired at Schofield barracks on Oahu, not the Big Island.

“We really could not find any hot spots of depleted uranium which means there weren’t large clumps or targeting of depleted uranium. That tells us that not a lot was fired up here,” said Komp.

But a small group of peace activists who had gathered outside of the training facility were concerned the Army is not telling the whole story.

“There’s two very strong lines of evidence that there were 2,000 spotter rounds. The Army only found fragments from maybe four and they don’t seem real worried about where the other 2,000 are,” said activist Cory Harden.

Activists were also calling for the Army to stop it’s live fire training for fear of stirring up dust that puts depleted uranium into the air.

The Army said it’s still studying dust samples taken based on those concerns, but so far, they’re not finding any health hazards in those samples either.

The Army also said it’s working on cleaning up any depleted uranium residue in the training facility.

“So in the end, we can continue to train our Army and Marine Corps forces who need to train here, still be good stewards of the land and most especially, good neighbors for the people of the Big Island,” said Col. Doug Mulbury, Garrison Commander of U.S. Army Garrison, Hawaii.

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