Hawai’i island activists raise questions about Abercrombie’s ordnance “emergency proclamation”


Questions raised over ordnance emergency

According to the Hawaii Tribune Hereald:

The decision to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clean up unexploded ordnance without interference from those laws has environmental activists concerned because of the perceived potential for misuse.

Abercrombie’s proclamation, which only came to light last week, was signed June 14. It invokes a section of state law conferring upon the governor emergency powers to deal with the threat of unexploded ordnance, or UXO, and other contaminants.

The secret proclamation to suspend 25 chapters of Hawai’i state law for five years drew criticism from Big Island activists:

“While the underlying intent of the proclamations may have been virtuous, from a public perspective it appears that government is simply looking for a shortcut to avoid Hawaii’s decades-old environmental laws,” said Sierra Club spokeswoman Deborah J. Ward.

The Sierra Club has drafted a letter to Abercrombie that calls on him to withdraw the proclamation immediately and questions the legal justification for it.

“Even assuming the governor’s office had the power to issue these proclamations, we believe you are ill-advised to do so,” the letter states.

“The end is good, dealing with the unexploded ordnance,” said Kurtistown peace activist Jim Albertini. “The means are very questionable.”

In 2006, Albertini’s group, Malu ‘Aina Center for Nonviolent Education and Action, assembled a map of the Big Island with 57 known former military sites covering more than 250,000 acres in every district of the island. That’s considerably more than the 128,790 acres statewide that the governor has identified as eligible for remediation.


Albertini has no objections to the military cleaning up after itself, but he would have appreciated more public consultation.

“It’s been an emergency for a long time,” he said. “Why the declaration of emergency now?”

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