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University of Hawaii completes 3-year investigation of military munitions sea disposal site
Date:10/17/2010

The University of Hawaii at Manoa's School of Ocean Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) completed a three-year long investigation of Sea Disposal Site Hawaii Number 5 (HI-05), a deep-water military munitions disposal site in U.S. coastal waters approximately 5 miles south of Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii.

This complex investigation required the use of high-resolution sidescan sonar and remotely operated underwater vehicles to locate sea disposed munitions in water as deep as 1,500 feet. The SOEST's Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory's (HURL) two three-man PISCES research submersibles were deployed to validate the results of sonar data and take water and sediment samples in areas where military munitions were found.

"We know from archived records thousands of military munitions were sea disposed at HI-05. 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," said Dr. Margo Edwards. "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."

Sediment, water and biological samples were analyzed at the University of Hawaii and independent laboratories on the mainland for munitions constituents, including explosive compounds like TNT, chemical agents and their breakdown products, and metals.

The HI-05 project report has six major conclusions, which may be summarized as:

  • Most munitions in the HI-05 Study Area were disposed of by ships that wer
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Contact: Tara Hicks Johnson
hickst@hawaii.edu
808-956-3151
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Source:Eurekalert

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