DLNR Decides To Leave Unexploded Ordnance Off Molokini Crater In Place

There are no plans to ‘detonate-in-place,” two WWII era munitions in waters off Molokini Crater in Maui County. The decision, announced today, is based on an assessment from the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DESB) conducted at the State’s request.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “We appreciate all of the public feedback and concur with the Army’s DESB assessment that the best approach is to leave these two bombs in the ocean, where they have been for the past 70 years. Given their locations and the ocean depth of one of the unexploded munitions, along with consultation with permitted dive and snorkel operators, the recommendation is for everyone to practice the 3 R’s of UXO safety.”

The 3 R’s are:
• Recognize
• Retreat
• Report: call 911 and the DOH HEER Office at (808) 586-5815

DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Brian Neilson commented, “We are confident that all of the commercial dive and snorkel operators who take people into the Molokini Marine Life Conservation District have a vested interest, not only in the safety of their customers, but also in the vitality of the aquatic resources that draw people to Molokini. We value the input these operators provided in reaching the decision.” He added, “We also appreciate the large number of letters and inquiries we received by members of the community. This high level of support for a non-destructive solution opened-up mitigation options not previously on the table”. The State continues to work with the US Army Corp of Engineers to pursue a non-destructive method to remove the UXO completely, however the leave-in-place option provides time to explore new technology and options.

State Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said, “People’s safety is always the Dept. of Health’s first and foremost consideration, so we’re pleased and completely supportive of the decision to manage these UXO in place with safety measures, until the hazard can be completely removed in the future. We certainly encourage anyone enjoying the waters at Molokini or frankly, anywhere, who comes upon munitions to follow local guidance and practice the 3R’s of UXO safety.” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also updated navigation charts to notify mariners of the hazards in the area.

Hawai‘i U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who has worked to secure funding to clean up formerly used defense sites, had requested information from the DLNR about plans for the remediation of the Molokini UXO. Senator Schatz concluded, “This is the right call for our community and for our marine environment. I urge boat tours and independent divers to continue to follow the advice of local officials so that the public can enjoy Molokini Crater safely. I thank the Army and the State for working together to find a solution that protects our environment and keeps people safe.”

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