Chemical weapons to remain off of Hawaii's coast

Officials with the United States Army announced last week that a cache of chemical weapons dumped five miles south of Pearl Harbor after World War II will not be removed because trying to move them may pose a threat to people and the environment.

According to its own records, the Army dumped 16,000 bombs in the spot. Each bomb contained 73 pounds of mustard gas, the Associated Press reports.

The dumping area have since been marked on nautical maps so ships do not traverse them and the waters are too deep to be reached by the general public. The Army used the area as a dumping ground for old munitions between 1919 and 1970.

J.C. King, assistant for munitions and chemical matters for the Army, told the Associated Press that the Army is now in the process of reviewing a University of Hawaii study on the dumped weapons.

Margo Edwards, a senior research scientist with the university, told the Associated Press that the study showed that the weapons were not a hazard, but that they were deteriorating and should continue to be monitored.

Edwards said that the team of university researchers made 16 separate dives in submersibles to depths of 2,000 feet and saw over 2,000 bombs during the course of the three-year study period.

King told the Associated Press that the Army’s Explosives Safety Board believes the weapons pose an immanent threat should they be moved and that they should stay in place and be used to educate the public about what they should do if they were to find an explosive shell.

King also said studies like the one conducted by the university help the Army to better understand the effects of munitions on the environment and what effect ocean waters have on the dumped weapons.