KOHALA COAST, Hawaii: A third unexploded ordnance was found and detonated at the popular Hapuna Beach State Park on Tuesday, as certain environmental groups stand opposed to Governor Neil Abercromibe’s use of his emergency executive powers to suspend the law in order to carry out cleanup effort.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources issued this media release today, describing the discovery of a grenade at the popular Hawaii Island leeward coast beach park:
Unexploded ordnance technicians scanning Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area on the west coast of the island of Hawaii for unexploded ordnance under contract to the Department of Land and Natural Resources today found a live Japanese hand grenade in the same area where a Japanese 57mm mortar was found on September 15, north of the cabin area and Southeast of Hapuna Prince Hotel.
The grenade was found on the ground and in the open. Workers moved it to the vicinity of where the Japanese mortar was detonated last week. It was safely detonated today at 1:41 p.m. No evacuation or park closure required since the closest public access is a road that is approximately 200 yards away. A live hand grenade was the first object to be found, on Sept. 8 in the park and safely detonated in place.
County Fire, Police, Civil Defense, and state DLNR officers were notified in advance. Signs are posted in the park to warn the public that workers are present and scanning for presence of unexploded World War II-era ordnance and that areas may be evacuated, as needed, for public safety.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on behalf of the Department of Land and Natural Resources is conducting surface and subsurface scanning in Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area to locate possible unexploded ordnance, most likely left over from World War II era military activity.
Scanning will take place through all of Hapuna Beach State Park past Waialea to Puako Road. The Waialea section will be done from November to December this year. The entire phase of this project will not be completed until mid-January 2012.
However, Robert D. Harris, Director of the Hawaii Chapter of the Sierra Club, is calling for the withdrawal of a proclamation that flew under the radar since its quiet June 14th signing.
“Recently”, wrote Harris in an email message, “Governor Abercrombie used his emergency executive powers to suspend many of Hawaii’s environmental and cultural laws. Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, Friends of Lana‘i, Hawai‘i’s Thousand Friends, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, Life of the Land, Malama Kauai, Na Kupuna Moku O Keawe, and the Sierra Club, Hawai‘i Chapter have jointly issued a letter expressing concern that Abercrombie’s administration is misusing its emergency power. While Governor Abercrombie’s administration may have been well-intentioned, it was ill-advised to suspend statutes that directly protect the public from harm. Waiver of Hawaii’s legal protections — whether they be procurement, cultural, environmental, or other — undermines public goals of transparency, accountability, and community invovlement. It also puts the public at risk of harm. Laws governing clean water, clean air, and hazardous materials all exist for a reason.”
“The rationale used by the Abercrombie adminstration to evade State regulations — the threat of speculative harm to the public — could wrongly justify numerous projects,” Harris continued. “At its core, virtually every governmental action is designed to protect the public. The scope of the Governor’s emergency powers is not so broad, however. The Governor cannot pick and choose what actions will comply with the law.”
“The eight community groups asked Governor Abercrombie to reassess the appropriateness of issuing these proclamations and withdraw them immediately.”
In the Governor’s Proclamation, it is noted that an estimated 128,790 acres of land in Hawaii are eligible for this sort of remediation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the Defense Environmental Restoration program, or DERP. The effort will be funded to the tune of $100 million dollars over the next five years.
“I find that these state of affairs and circumstances are of such a grave nature as to affect the health, safety and welfare of the public,” reads the governor’s executive order, “and that these circumstances require the invocation of provisions of Chapter 128, Hawaii Revised Statutes, that are effective only during a period of civil defense emergency.”
Suspended statutes include Chapter 6E – historic preservation, Chapter 115 – public access to coastal and inland recreational areas, Chapter 183C – conservation district, and Chapter 343 – environmental impact statements, among many others.