Military ordnance team unable to dispose of canister that closed Hanauma Bay today

According to the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a diver found a military ordnance in Hanauma Bay today, causing officials to close the popular tourist recreational spot.  This was where President Obama and his family swam during his winter vacation.  Army ordnance disposal technicians failed to blow the canister, which began smoking once exposed to the air.  The article reports that the device could be a phosphorous canister used to illuminate and mark targets with smoke. However, phosphorous is a particularly sinister material when it makes contact with flesh.  It continues to burn at a high temperature until it is cut off from oxygen.


Military ordnance team unable to dispose of canister that closed Hanauma Bay today

By Dan Nakaso

POSTED: 11:06 a.m. HST, May 01, 2011

An explosive ordnance team from Schofield Barracks tried to blow up a military smoke cannister that forced the evacuation of Hanauma Bay this morning but had to return to Schofield under police escort because “whatever process they used, it didn’t work,” Honolulu Fire Capt. Earle Kealoha said.

The ordnance team is expected to return later today to dispose of the 3-foot-long, 6-inch diameter cannister that was discovered by a scuba diver this morning at “witches’ brew,” a small peninsula and cove on the right side of the marine preserve.

The team buried the cannister in the sand and apparently triggered a small explosion, Kealoha said.

“Evidently it didn’t do the job it was supposed to do,” Kealoha said. “They’re heading back to Schofield under police escort to get more of what they need.”

About 1,000 beach-goers were evacuated from Hanauma Bay this morning after a scuba diver brought the cannister to shore, according to the city’s Department of Emergency Services.

The diver brought the device to a lifeguard, who notified Honolulu firefighters around 9:30 a.m., according to the Department of Emergency Services. The marine preserve was evacuated at 10 a.m., according to Ocean Safety dispatchers.

The cannister later began smoking as it lay near a lifeguard tower, Kealoha said.

Hazardous materials experts from the fire department believe the device is a phosphorous canister used by P-3 pilots to mark objects, such as submarines, in the water with white smoke, Kealoha said.

“We’re guessing it was used in a training exercise off shore and it floated in,” Kealoha said.

HFD hazardous materials officials recommended keeping people at least 100 feet away from the cannister until military ordnance crews can remove it today, Kealoha said.

But, as a precaution, Hanauma Bay officials cleared the entire marine preserve “for safety,” Kealoha said.

Asked about the wisdom of bringing a military device to shore, Kealoha said, “I wouldn’t have.”

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