September 2, 2010 – Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii
Video by Tim Bryan
In a special press conference held the same day select members of the community met with the U.S. Army at the Pohakuloa Training Area, military officials and experts say their findings “indicate no likely adverse impacts to current and potential future persons working on or living near PTA due to DU present at PTA.”
Members of the media were taken onto the range and were explained the findings hours before the following release was made public:
Results of the Army’s recent depleted uranium (DU) Basic Human Health Risk Assessment (BHHRA) for the Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) impact area indicate no likely adverse impacts to current and potential future persons working on or living near PTA due to DU present at PTA.
This survey was conducted in full partnership and disclosure with representatives of several other organizations with interests in environmental radiological and chemical contamination. These agencies include, but are not limited to the:
• Hawaii Department of Health (DOH)
• U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
DU was first found within the boundary of the Pohakuloa Training Area impact area in October 2006. Subsequent investigations, conducted in coordination with state and expert partners, indicate that DU is not present outside of the impact area.
The purpose of the BHRRA is to evaluate the potential risk posed by residual DU in the PTA impact area. The results of the risk assessment demonstrate that the presence of DU in the soil at the PTA impact area results in radiological doses, as well as chemical and radiological risks, well within limits for what is considered safe, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC). Following USEPA guidance and with input from partner organizations, five potential exposure scenarios were evaluated:
1. Current and future range maintenance workers
2. Future construction/clean-up workers
3. Future adult cultural monitors
4. Future site workers/visitors/trespassers
5. Subsistence farmers living at the site boundary
Each scenario, considered four possible methods of contact:
1. Incidental swallowing of soil containing DU
2. Dust inhalation
3. Skin contact with DU
4. Direct exposure to gamma radiation
Although access to the PTA impact area is tightly controlled and restricted to qualified, trained personnel, the Army is taking additional steps to ensure the health and safety of workers and that the local community is protected. For example, the Army submitted a license application, which the USNRC is processing, to possess the residual DU in the impact area. In addition, the Army requires that those allowed routine access to the PTA impact area are qualified and trained to identify DU and to follow appropriate safety precautions and notification procedures while on-site.
The BHHRA is available for public viewing on the U.S. Army Garrison – Hawaii website, www.garrison.hawaii.army.mil/du. The Army has also published an informational pamphlet; “Depleted Uranium (DU) in Hawaii”. The pamphlet is available on the website.
For additional information, contact Mike Egami at 656-3152, U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii Public Affairs Office.
The day was not without its expected controversy. Members of multiple environmental groups stationed themselves outside the base to protest DU and the military’s handling of the subject. The Gathering of Eagles stood with flags waving on the opposite side of Saddle Road, in support of the PTA.
|U.S. Army makes DU presentation to media
The first half of the military presentation on DU, given to the media on Tuesday, September 1st. Radiation expert Greg Komp, with the Army’s safety office, explains the depleted uranium situation on the base.
|Q & A with the Army on DU
After the initial presentation, military officials answer some questions from the media on the subject of DU. After the presentation, the media was taken outside to film the area of the firing range.
|Skeptics doubt military findings outside Pohakuloa Training Area
Cory Harden with the Sierra Club’s Moku Loa group speaks to media while demonstrating outside the Pohakuloa Training Area after the special meeting held to discuss depeleted uranium. Harden questions certain unanswered details in the Army report. During the interview, the taunts of the Gathering of Eagles can be heard from across the street.
|Gathering of Eagles defends military on Big Island
Robert Gowan, aka “RedHawk”, stands in opposition to the military protestors outside the gates of Pohakuloa Training Area. With American flags waving, the Gathering of Ealges often appears at PTA to counter the depleted uranium demonstrations.