Munitions dump off of Hawaii found to be safe

A three year investigation into a deepwater military munitions disposal site, which contains chemical chemical weapons, approximately five miles south of Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, has been completed by the University of Hawaii at Manoa's School of Ocean Earth Science and Technology.

High-resolution sidescan sonar and remotely operate dunderwater vehicles were utilized in locating munitions disposed in the water as deep as 1,500 feet at Sea Disposal Site Hawaii Number 5, also known as HI-05, reports.

“We know from archived records thousands of military munitions were sea disposed at HI-05," Dr. Margo Edwards told "There were also some indications that as many as 16,000 M47 100-pound bombs containing approximately 73 pounds each of the chemical agent mustard were disposed in the area. The systematic approach that we developed in collaboration with personnel from the U.S. Army and private industry (Environet, Inc.) allowed us to identify more than 2,000 munitions on the seafloor in the study area. With assistance from the HURL, samples collected within a few feet of several munitions provided the study team the ability to assess the potential impact of sea disposed munitions on human health and the ocean environment, as well as to assess the impact of the ocean environment on sea disposed munitions.”

Six conclusions were published from the examination of the munitions site, which found that most of the munitions were disposed of by ships that were underway as munitions were thrown overboard.

The examination also found a broad spectrum of munition integrity. Even the best munitions casings, the report says, are deteriorating at an undetermined rate.

Sediment sample analysis showed little influence from the munitions and no adverse impact or ecological health impact was indicated. Additionally, acceptable risk levels under Environmental Protection Agency limits were recorded for risk to human health from the consumption of fish and shrimp collected near the area.