Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NRC Hearings on Pohakuloa

This Wednesday and Thursday in Kona and, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will be holding public meetings/hearings on depleted uranium contamination at the Pohakuloa Training Area. The hearing times are below.

The military is seeking an NRC license to allow the radiation contamination at PTA to remain in place. The army has been beating a series of strategic retreats on this issue for months. After I reported that activists had taken abnormally high radiation readings in the saddle area, the military denied that there was any use of depleted uranium on the mountain. Then it discovered that a cold-war era artillery piece designed to hurl small atomic bombs had been tested at Pohakuloa; the gun hadn't fired actual bombs, but the non-explosive shells that it had fired contained DU. Then it found pieces of those rounds. Then the army claimed that although there was DU was found at Pohakuloa, it wasn't dangerous to the public. Each of those claims was disputed by various activists and experts, who contended that DU did present a danger, especially if particles were stirred up by more activity (such as construction, vehicle activity or bombardment) and got into someone's lungs.

I don't know which is right about the danger level. But I'm not inclined to take the Army's word about it. It would be good if those findings were verified by an independent source. It would be even better if the DU were removed and disposed of properly. The army has a long history of and not thoroughly cleaning up its messes on this island, which has exacerbated public resentment and distrust during this most recent controversy.

Meeting times and places:
Kona: 6-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 26, King Kamehameha Kona Beach Hotel

Hilo: 6-8:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27, Hilo High School cafeteria