Feb. 21, 2010 Open letter to closed door Pohakuloa meeting participants

Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action

P.O. Box AB Ola’a (Kurtistown), Hawai`i 96760
Phone 808-966-7622 email ja@interpac.net
Visit us on the web at www.malu-aina.org

February 21, 2010

An open letter to all County, State, Federal officials, and special interests participating in the closed door meeting at the military’s Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) on Feb. 24, 2010.   (To people invited to Pohakuloa  from those who aren’t)

Please be aware that the meeting will be picketed.  We do not believe in “democracy by invitation only.”   The doors are closed to the public who pays the bill.
We are angry that the military continues to conduct bombing missions and live-fire without a complete independent assessment of the Depleted Uranium (DU) radiation present at PTA and without  cleaning up as called for in Hawaii County Council resolution 639-08.  The military has been stonewalling the community’s concerns about health and safety for years. The Davy Crockett DU weapons may just be the tip of far more widespread DU contamination.

We invite you to stop and dialog with us before you enter the base.  Inside, we ask that you be our voice. Ask the following questions and …


1.  Why hasn’t the Army stopped all live-fire and bombing missions until there is a complete independent assessment and clean-up of the DU already present as called for in County of Hawaii resolution 639-08?
The Army denied even having DU in Hawai’i–until citizen groups found out DU had been discovered at Schofield Barracks, Oahu, in 2005. Estimates of the number of DU spotting rounds vary widely–from about 700 statewide to over 2000 at Pohakuloa alone just from one weapon system –Davy Crockett.  (There may have been many more DU weapon systems used at PTA and other Hawaii ranges.)  Concerns about Army searches, reports, and air monitoring have been raised by Dr. Mike Reimer, a geologist, and Dr. Marshall Blann, a consultant to Los Alamos National Laboratory, both from Kona; and Dr. Lorrin Pang from Maui, a former Army doctor who is a consultant to the World Health Organization. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not yet granted the Army a license to possess DU. Yet the Army has ignored a County resolution calling for a halt to bombing and live-fire that may spread airborne DU from undetected DU munitions.

2.  Are there more forgotten hazards?
The Army claims it was unaware of the Davy Crockett  DU spotting rounds because they were classified.  This should be a wake-up call to investigate for more DU rounds and other forgotten hazards. Remember that the Army tested nerve gas and defoliants on State lands in the Waiakea Forest Reserve (Hilo’s watershed) in 1966 and 1967 while publicly denying such testing.  The Army lied.  It said it was doing “weather” testing.  The State canceled the military lease over the lies and attempted cover-up.  Isn’t it time to cancel the State lease to the military of stolen Hawaiian Kingdom lands now contaminated with radiation from weapons testing?  Military use of Hawai’i Kingdom lands violates the Kingdom’s position of neutrality stated in numerous treaties.

3.  Why is there plenty of money for new military projects, but little to clean up the 50-plus former military sites on Hawai’i Island littered with unexploded ordnance, toxins, and other hazards?  When will all of the 50-plus present and former military sites, totaling more than 250,000-acres on Hawaii Island, be cleared of unexploded ordnance, toxins, and other hazards?  A few examples…
Students dug up a grenade in a school garden in the Waimea/ Waikoloa area.
Old ordnance was found twice in 15 months at Hapuna, some in water as shallow as 30 feet, some only about 100 yards from shore.
A recreational diver found unexploded ordnance in Hilo Bay–searchers then found 300 pieces
Another diver found a 60-millimeter shell at a popular Hilo dive site, about 50 yards offshore in 12 feet of water.

4.   Why won’t the military participate in public forums on community concerns about health and safety over depleted uranium and other military toxins?  What’s the Army afraid of?

5.  The cumulative impacts from numerous military projects in Hawai’i need to be fully addressed.  About 1 acre out of 25 statewide is already military-controlled. Thousands of acres of past and present military sites, Stryker land grab, Hilo National Guard rebuild, University military research, armed “Superferry”/Joint High Speed Vessel—what’s next?  There are rumors the military wants more of Hawai‘i Island.  How much Hawai’i Island land is the military planning to take? Where and when?

6.  When will the Pohakuloa Community Advisory Group (CoAG) meet?
It hasn’t met for seven months. The Army never answered a CoAG member request to restart meetings. Note that the Army only started CoAG a year and a half ago–five years after Sierra Club first asked for such a group.

7.  Why are no public scoping hearings planned for the Army’s Joint High Speed Vessel EIS?
Citizens should be able to publicly raise concerns for the JHSV Environmental Impact Statement–like
Risks to marine animals from vessel strikes, fuel spills, and live-fire
Risks of spreading coquis, fire ants, and other invasive species
Effects of security zones on native Hawaiian cultural practices and subsistence activities, and on fishing, commerce, and recreation
Vagueness about which ports will be used

8.  We want Military Clean-Up NOT Military Build-Up!  If the U.S. stopped spending several $billion/per day on imperial wars there would be more money for county and state budget needs, jobs, and funding human needs.  We urgently request that you–as public officials–speak up on these critical issues of War, Militarism and the Health of our island citizens.

With gratitude and aloha,
Jim Albertini
for  Malu ‘Aina ohana