Apparent Illegal Dumping Found Near O‘okala

September 15, 2020, 3:38 PM HST (Updated September 15, 2020, 3:38 PM)
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Military munition storage and shipping containers were among items discovered at an apparent illegal dumping site on the Hāmākua Coast, near the town of O‘okala on Monday.

According to a press release from the US Army at Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Tuesday, military officials were alerted to the rubbish by Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency. Aside from the discarded military items, refuse and recyclables found at the site included metal rebar and vegetable/fruit cans.

The US Army at PTA is fully cooperating with the Department of Health and Hawaii County officials in the investigation into this apparent illegal and unauthorized dumping.

“Safety is definitely our top concern. Based on the reported military items, we assess there is no imminent risk to human health or the environment from the improperly discarded military items,” said Lt. Col. JR Borce, PTA commander.

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The Army, Borce added, will work transparently with the Department of Health and local officials to help determine what happened and if assistance is needed to clean up as permitted by law.

PTA does not dispose of large-item recyclable or scrap material. Instead, the Army hires contractors to perform that work under strict contracts. These contracts explicitly contain robust environmental protection clauses where contractors promise to meet and comply with all applicable environmental laws and provisions.

Army contractors are required to dispose solid waste refuse at an off-post location permitted by the Department of Health. Contractors agree to remain solely responsible for remedying all Federal, State and local environmental and safety violations or non-compliance issues.

“At PTA we work very hard to reduce and recycle solid waste to the greatest extent possible,” Borce said. “To hear that those efforts appear to have been undermined in this instance is disturbing and absolutely unacceptable.”

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