Ordnance Sweep Completed in Waimea Subdivision
by Dave Smith
The US Army Corps of Engineers recently completed a sweep for unexploded military ordnance in a Waimea subdivision.
A Corps spokesman said the three-day search in the Sandalwood subdivision resulted in the finding of three pieces of munition debris. None were explosive, he said.
The project, which took place Monday through Wednesday, required intermittent road closures on Kawaihae Road.
During World War II, military exercises – including the firing of artillery – were conducted in an area known as the Waikoloa Maneuver Area that encompassed more than 137,000 acres in South Kohala.
Surveys have determined that more than 50,000 of those acres are considered as being of “moderate-to-high” risk to people because of leftover unexploded ordnance.
Ordnance is often found as former range land is converted to residential subdivisions.
The Department of Defense periodically conducts sweeps for old munitions. According to military sources, more than $150 million has been spent since 2000 on that effort.
Since the war at least four people have been killed by the lethal leftovers, including two cowboys killed while working on fences on Parker Ranch in the 1950s.
In 2002, children working in a garden at Waimea Middle School unearthed a live grenade which they handled before turning over to a teacher. An unexploded ordnance team found three more grenades in the garden area.
A suspected piece of military ordnance recently was found off Hapuna Beach, which was used for beach-storming exercises during the war.