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NOAA RELEASES REPORT ON HAWAII DISCARDED MILITARY MUNITIONS SITE SURVEY

NOAA image of discarded 30 caliber round found at Ordnance Reef in Hawaii during the survey.April 3, 2007 NOAA released the results of a June 2006 survey of an underwater area off the Hawaiian island of Oahu where discarded military munitions are present. The survey of the area has verified the presence of munitions ranging from small arms projectiles to large-caliber artillery projectiles and naval gun ammunition. The survey was conducted by NOAA, with assistance from the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources. (Click NOAA image for larger view of discarded 30 caliber round found at Ordnance Reef in Hawaii during the survey. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

NOAA image of the NOAA Ordnance Reef survey team retrieving a side scan sonar seafloor imaging device during the survey.No explosives or related compounds were detected in the fish samples taken during the survey. With the exception of copper, metal levels in sediment samples from the study area were low overall. Most munitions were covered with coral growth and provided some of the only refuge for fish on the otherwise uncolonized hard bottom. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the NOAA Ordnance Reef survey team retrieving a side scan sonar seafloor imaging device during the survey. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The munitions were found in depths ranging from 24 feet to the maximum depth of the study area, 300 feet. Scientists did not detect the presence of the explosives cyclonite (RDX), trinitrotoluene (TNT), or tetryl during the sampling effort. A related munitions compound, dinitrotoluene (DNT), was detected in four sediment samples (three near munitions, one not associated with munitions).

NOAA image of Ordnance Reef survey map in Hawaii where unexploded munitions were found.During the two-week survey, requested and funded by the Department of Defense, scientists combed a five-square-nautical-mile area off Pokai Bay known as "Ordnance Reef" with sophisticated seafloor mapping and imaging equipment to determine the boundary of the munitions area and the presence or absence of munitions constituents, such as explosives and metals. The survey team deployed a remotely operated vehicle and specially trained scuba divers to collect water, fish and sediment samples for analysis by the university and two independent laboratories. (Click NOAA image for larger view of Ordnance Reef survey map in Hawaii where unexploded munitions were found. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The results of the survey will serve as the basis for a DoD evaluation of the potential safety and environmental risks associated with the presence of munitions.

NOAA offices involved in the survey included the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program, NOAA Office of Coast Survey, NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, NOAA Office of Special Projects and the NOAA Fisheries Service Pacific Regional Office.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Ordnance Reef Survey Project Report (PDF)

Maps of Ordnance Reef Survey

Media Contact:
David Hall, NOAA Ocean Service, (301) 713-3066 ext. 191
(Photos courtesy of David Hall, NOAA Ocean Service, and NOAA Ordnance Reef survey team.)