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State Will Not Detonate UXO Off Molokini Crater

August 19, 2020, 2:13 PM HST
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Molokini Crater. PC: MauiNow

The state of Hawai‘i will maintain a hands-off approach when it comes to unexploded ordnance (UXO) off the Molokini Crater in Maui County.

There are no plans to detonate-in-place two WWII-era munitions resting in waters near the crater, the state said in a press release Wednesday. The decision, the release said, is based on an assessment from the Department of Defense Explosives Safety Board (DESB) conducted at the state’s request.

“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,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said. “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 (three) Rs of UXO safety.”

The three Rs are:

  • Recognize
  • Retreat
  • Report: call 911 and the DOH HEER Office at (808) 586-5815

Considerable public outcry followed the public announcement that the state was considering detonating the UXO out of concern for the safety of tourists and boat operators, who frequent the area with regularity.

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Those opposed to the detonation cited the destruction to natural resources and marine life the detonation would create.

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“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,” said DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources Administrator Brian Neilson. “We value the input these operators provided in reaching the decision. We also appreciate the large number of letters and inquiries we received by members of the community.”

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