SOURCE: Shannon Rudolf (email@example.com) SUBHEAD: The Army is leaving us "legacy" nuclear waste dumps on two islands as a "national sacrifice area". Image above: Army Chinook helicopter moving practice target at Pohakuloa Range. From (http://www.army.mil/-news/2009/03/09/17977-25th-cab-improves-pohakuloa-training-area). By Shannon Rudolph on 1 July 2010 - Mahalo for Alan McNarie's latest article on depleted uranium in Hawaii, even if the news is not good. No investigative reporter in Hawaii, or practically the whole country, has more in depth knowledge on this issue and the community thanks him for his research and persistence to get some straight answers over these many long years. Praises to a real reporter who is not just a stenographer. Well this is just great, the Army intends to leave us "legacy" nuclear waste dumps on at least two islands turning us into a "national sacrifice area", unless the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Environmental Protection Agency come to our rescue. Hopefully these agencies are not sitting around watching porn and partying with hookers and Army brass like the Minerals Management Service supposedly in charge of regulating offshore drilling rigs were - and are actually doing their jobs. Good Lord. The facts remain, without the proper soil, air, and groundwater testing, without proper human tests, especially for life long, downwind residents, without independent analysis, without proper equipment to monitor, without monitors in the correct places, without proper testing protocols, without monitors that actually work and continuous monitoring online that residents can see with their own eyes, we will never know the extent of our exposure to aerosolized, nano-particles of processed, uranium oxide dust with a half life of over four billion years; not to be confused with natural uranium radiation. Residents have been waiting for nearly six years to receive answers to many intelligent questions and we are not one whit further ahead in our knowledge than when we started. I blame this foot dragging on the military, and on elected officials who believe everything they are told and refuse to believe that the military just might be trying to pull the wool over their eyes instead of holding their feet to the fire. Much has been written and documented regarding airborne DU radiation; it does travel on the wind and its not something to ignore. The Waiki'i test did contain DU, according to Dr. Rosalee Bertell, Dr. Pang, and various experts on radiation which seemingly proves that the DU is migrating off base. This is a very serious discovery to people living and visiting here but was treated as insignificant by the Army and most local media. Residents are very concerned about a cancer cluster in Kona and the fact that Hawaii Island as a whole, has the highest cancer rates in the state in ten out of eighteen categories and we would like to know what is causing these high rates. Is it vog? Is it depleted uranium? We will never know at this rate, we will just keep dying younger than we should have, while our own politicians and state health dept. sit in mute silence. I think its way past time for some other agency to take over the DU testing from the military if they can't manage to produce some actual results that we can trust in nearly six long years. There's no way this should have ever taken this long. We know damn well the Army knows how to properly test for DU but according to the NRC, various doctors, and experts, they are not. Using filters for testing that are ten times too big is an insult to every living thing on our island, plus O'ahu, and at least seven other training ranges in our country.
Army never meant to clean up DU
By Alan D. McNarie on 30 June 2010 in Big Island Weekly -
According to a high Army official, the Army never intended to remove depleted uranium ammunition remnants from Pohakuloa Training Area and Shofield Barracks, and it has no plans to do so for as long as the firing ranges at those facilities are still in use.
"The Army requested a license for possession, not decommissioning, of the legacy DU at the affected Army installations," wrote Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Army Addison D. "Tad" Davis IV to Congresswoman Mazie Hirono on May 26 of this year. Davis added, "Currently the Army has no plans for the removal of the legacy DU. The ranges containing DU are still in use, and most, if not all, of these ranges also contain unexploded ordnance, which is significantly more hazardous than any DU that might be present on these ranges. Should those ranges be scheduled for closure at some future date, the Army will address the DU present as part of the range closure...."
The "legacy DU" referred to in the letter is believed to be fragments of spotting rounds from cold-war-era Davy Crockett nuclear artillery. In 2008, the Army submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a permit to "possess" the DU; its original permit had expired in 1964. The NRC's ruling on that application is still pending, though the NRC has criticized the Army's plan to monitor the DU in the area as ineffective. (See "NRC to Army: DU Monitoring Plan Won't Work" in the archives at http://www.bigislandweekly.com.)
A sub-agency called the Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management Programs is entertaining a petition from Hawaiian activist Isaac Harp to discipline the army over the expired permit. Hirono had asked Davis what the army had done to address public concerns about "environmental, health and safety" hazards that the DU posed.
The Army has repeatedly contended that the DU does not present a significant hazard to the island's population. Davis's letter to Hirono continued to maintain the Army's position. He claimed that the soil concentration of DU at the Army ranges was estimated at 1-4 pCi/g (picocuries of DU per gram of soil), which averaged "much less than the NRC decommissioning levels of uranium in soil (14 pCi/g of Uranium 238, the major constituent of DU), and are not much above soil concentrations of naturally occurring uranium."
"The Army has collected numerous air and soil samples, none of which indicate that the DU at Hawaii's ranges has migrated off-range...," Davis contended.
Not so, says Dr. Lorrin Pang, a former Army doctor and frequent critic of the Army's handling of the DU issue.
"That's absolutely not true. Even their own tests at Waiki'i [on the Saddle Road near Pohakuloa] found it [DU] in dust at low levels. I think the correct scientific interpretation is, it was there," Pang told the Big Island Weekly.
Pang also challenged Davis's assertion that "Many independent scientific studies of depleted uranium in the environment show that DU presents no significant 'environmental, health and safety [hazard],' especially at the soil concentrations of the DU on Hawaii's ranges." Pang noted that the NRC itself had criticized the Army's monitoring protocols as inadequate; he maintained that the Army simply didn't know, yet, how much DU was located at Pohakuloa.
"You don't have a system in place to monitor and baseline, and then you're gonna tell me the risks?" he asked skeptically. "Tad Allen isn't a scientist. He's an MBA from Harvard. If he makes these statements, he'd better refer to scientists who will defend them...
First of all, if you say, we never intended to clean it up, how much is there? You don't even know."
The proper scientific approach, he maintained was, "First tell me, how much [DU] is there. Then you've got to tell, me, what is the risk? Then you've got to tell me the response: if you're going to clean it up or not."
And the army's own "friendly fire" studies on servicepeople exposed to DU were so badly flawed, he maintained, that the researchers hadn't even recorded tumors, so the health risks were also not known. Without knowing either the quantity of DU or the health risk, the proper course of action was impossible to determine.
He added that that appropriate course of action might turn out to be something other than cleaning up the DU.
"Maybe they don't have to clean it up," he said. "Maybe they just promise never to use it again. Maybe they keep the dust down."
Davis's letter also provoked a response from Cory Harden, who has been monitoring the DU controversy for the Sierra Club. Harden noted that when Davis wrote , "the Army has collected numerous soil and air samples, none of which indicate that the DU...has migrated off range," he didn't mention testimony by geologist and radiation expert Dr. Mike Reimer, who had reviewed the Army's proposed DU monitoring system and found that the holes in the filters on the Army's detection devices were "ten times too large."
She also questioned Davis' statement that the DU disposal problem would be addressed when the firing ranges were finally decommissioned. She noted that after the military took over Kaho'olawe for a bombing range, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower had promised to return the island in habitable condition - but when it was finally returned 50 years later, massive bombing had cracked the caprock, draining the island's freshwater supply, and most of the island's land still had not been entirely cleared of ordnance.
Ea O Ka Aina: Hawaii DU Plans Useless 4/29/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Big Islanders speak on militarism 3/2/10
Bi Island Hui: Residents Petition NRC on DU 2/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Army intends 3 JHSV for Hawaii 2/9/10
Island Breath: Stryker to stay at Pohakuloa 5/18/08
Island Breath: DU detected at Big Island Gun Range 5/1/07
Island Breath: Army Confirms DU at Pohakuloa 8/21/07
Island Breath: Superferry, Stryker Brigade & DU 11/1/06