Hilo, Hawaii – Video by David Corrigan
For some Big Island residents, a busy week in protest of the Pohakuloa Training Area and the controversial issue of depleted uranium on Hawaii Island, has concluded with a litigious blow to their cause.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied a request for a hearing made by Cory Harden, Jim Albertini, Isaac D. Harp, and Oahu’s Luwella K. Leonardi, in a memorandum and order issued on Wednesday.
The NRC Administrative Judges found that Harden, Harp and Albertini, all vocal opponents of the military training on the Big Island, had failed to establish standing in the matter of the Army’s pending application for a request to possess depleted uranium on at Pohakuloa, as well as Schofield Barracks on Oahu.
The military request to the NRC comes from the army’s use of M101 “spotting rounds” in the 1960s on firing ranges on both islands. From the background summary written in the decision:
The M101 spotting rounds were used with the Davy Crockett Weapon System, which was a then-classified tactical nuclear weapon system produced from 1960 to 1968. The Army used the spotting rounds and non-nuclear practice projectiles for training purposes until 1968. The spotting rounds contained DU because its heavy weight enabled the rounds to imitate the trajectory of the non-nuclear practice projectiles. The spotting rounds held a small explosive charge that detonated on impact, allowing the weapon system operator to target the weapon accurately before firing practice projectiles. The practice projectiles purportedly had a range of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 yards. The Army states that, as the decades passed after 1968 during which the Davy Crockett Weapon System was no longer used, the DU fragments from the spotting rounds that were fired remained undetected at the Army installations. The Army further states, however, that in August 2005, personnel at Schofield discovered spotting round tail assemblies and other DU fragments while clearing former range areas of munitions. This discovery triggered an Armywide historical records search to identify other sites where M101 spotting rounds may have been used. In 2008, the Army confirmed the presence of DU from M101 spotting rounds at Pohakuloa.
Many island residents have objected to the testing methods employed to track any possible effects the DU may have had, or currently has, on the community.
Responding to the NRC decision, Albertini said “the NRC’s order denying us a hearing is not surprising. The NRC has never denied a license request. The NRC appears to be a rubber stamp for the military and the nuclear industry, much like the so-called Bank regulators are a rubber stamp for the Wall St. Banksters ongoing criminal enterprise. The deck is stacked against the citizen and taxpayer in challenging policies that favor special interests. The heart of the issues are ignored and the case is reduced to using procedural legal technicalities to deny citizens their rights and their voice. Legal bureaucrats in Rockville, Maryland , paid with our tax dollars, have determined that we who live here in Hawaii have no standing to challenging the military poisoning our island home with radiation. What kind of justice, freedom and democracy is that?”
“In plain language,” Albertini continued, “a military license to possess DU in the heart of our island is a license for a nuclear waste dump. The state of Hawaii (BLNR) that leases land to the military on its 133,000 acre PTA base for 65 years for a total of $1.00 should cancel the lease. We need to malama the aina not abuse it.”
On Tuesday, Albertini spoke to state government representatives during a public meeting in Hilo, when the above video was taken. The next day, Albertini says some 30 protestors picketed outside the gate of Pohakuloa as the military reportedly met with local officials behind closed doors. The substance of the meeting has not yet been made public.
On Monday, retired Army Colonel, Ann Wright, spoke about the adverse effects of DU at a meeting in Keaau. She reportedly joined Tuesday’s protest as well, after Albertini says she was denied the opportunity to represent the interests of Albertini’s Malu Aina peace organization at the meeting.