Testimony on Military leases of State land

Testimony needs to be sent before the 9 AM meeting of the BLNR on Friday, April 12th.  Send by Thursday is better.

Additional testimony  April 10, 2024

No selling (or land swapping) Conservation zone land to the military so it can bomb and shell it, and contaminate it with a wide range of toxins.

Simple and straight forward.  Hard to believe I need to put this in writing.

Jim Albertini, president of Malu ‘Aina

To blnr.testimony@hawaii.gov

Testimony opposing any Pohakuloa and other Army leases of State land.  Our organization calls for NO Action alternative — Zero acres of State leased land to the military and no land swaps to enable the military to further contaminate Hawaii.

April 10, 2024

Our organization is opposed to any further leases, land swaps, or renewal of existing leases, of State land to the US military.  Hawaii is one of the most militarized, and military polluted, places on the planet.  We need a process of de-militarization, not continuing militarization.  And we need to require the military to clean up its toxic mess.  The clean up needs to be much better than was done on Kaho’olawe, where $450 million was spent more than 20 years ago and only approximately 10% of the island surface was cleaned. There is still massive military contamination on the land and in near shore waters.  Some unexploded ordnance is reported to be 20 feet deep in the aina.

As for Pohakuloa, we call for an immediate stop to all live fire, a comprehensive and independent assessment of all UXO and toxins present, comprehensive clean up, and a return of the land to the Hawaiian people.  It is important to emphasize that Pohakuloa is zoned “CONSERVATION LAND” — the highest protected land status.  Bombing, shelling, and a number of military dump sites, etc. are not compatible uses with conservation zone land.  A conservation district is established to conserve, protect and preserve important cultural and natural resources. How do bombing and shelling, along with military dump sites fit in with conservation. The military’s disregard is demonstrated by its failure to take any of the actions called for in Hawaii County Resolution 639-08 passed on July 2, 2008, by a vote of 8-1.  The first action in that resolution called for stopping all live-fire at PTA and any other activities that create dust until an independent and comprehensive assessment and clean up of the Depleted Uranium radiation contamination already present at PTA is done. Bombing and shelling can resuspend military toxins.  Toxins, including tiny DU oxide particles, can be carried long distances in the wind. DU oxide particles when inhaled can cause various cancers, birth defects, and genetic damage which can be passed to future generations, according to Dr. Lorrin Pang, MD and 24 years in the Army Medical Corps.

I believe it is important to note that PTA is located in a dry, windy area prone to wildfires caused by military bombing and shelling.  The military activity at Pohakuloa is a Lahaina firestorm in the making for Hawaii Island. 

I want to also state that I was very impressed written testimony submitted June 7, 2022 by DLNR director, Suzanne Case and  K. Tiger Mills of the Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands.  Please read and make a part of the record an article in Hawaii Civil Beat of Aug. 24, 2022 about Pohakuloa contamination that includes the full June 7, 2022 statements by Case (9 pages) and Mills (4 pages) after the article. See https://www.civilbeat.org/2022/08/hawaii-agencies-criticize-a-big-island-military-training-site-amid-push-for-lease-renewal/

Director Case points out that “only a little over half of the State lands have been surveyed for archaeological sites.”  Overall, according to Case the Draft EIS had gaps in data, missing studies and other documents. and many of the plans and studies are more than 10 years old.  Case also asks Please clarify how the Army thinks its activities at PTA “could be brought into conformance with conservation district rules.”  Mention is made for the need of more study on native bird species, biological resources, air monitoring, and cultural data.

K. Tiger Mills ends her 4 page testimony by saying —
‘The OCCL notes it appears Table 3-24 Potential Environmental Impacts concludes that the no action alternative would provide the best benefits to the land, environment, flora and fauna, and culture of Hawai’i.”  The NO Action means zero acres of State leased land at Pohakuloa to the military.  I would add that a Presidential Executive order seized 84,000 acres of land at PTA at zero cost in the same year (1964) that the State leased 23,000 acres to PTA for 65 years at a total cost of $1 dollar for the 65 years.  Besides an end to the lease of State lands to the military at PTA, there needs to be a move to rescind that Presidential executive order like was done with a Presidential executive order that returned Kaho’olawe to the Hawaiian people in 1990 under President George H.W. Bush.

While my above comments focus on Pohakuloa, I would also call for comprehensive, independent testing and monitoring for Depleted Uranium (DU) and other toxic contamination at Makua, and complete clean up.  Statements by the Army in 2007 said it is possible DU has been used at Makua.  The other Army lease sites should be studied by independent agencies for military toxic contamination and thoroughly cleaned. Our organization opposes any further military lease extensions or land swaps.  It’s long past time the lands be returned to the Hawaiian people in clean condition.

Jim Albertini, President of Malu ‘Aina

Below is testimony I submitted to DLNR on Oct. 26, 2023 via email. Please make this a part of the record.  Mahalo.

Written testimony to DLND concerning Pohakuloa lease.

Some community concerns expressed about PTA include the following:
1.  What possible toxins are blowing in the dust, wind, and smoke off PTA from more than 75 years of bombing and shelling, including the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) radiation rounds at PTA?  It has been suggested that an independent authority install air filters 360 degrees surrounding the base at government expense to see what might be coming off the base.  What is your evaluation of PTA’s lack of response to Hawaii County Council’s resolution 639-08 passed in July 2008 by a vote of 8-1 calling on 8 actions to be taken by PTA. 
2.  There are growing concerns about spreading wildfires started at PTA from bombing and shelling.  Is PTA, located in the dry, windy center of Hawaii Island, our “Lahaina” fire waiting to happen?
3.  There are growing concerns, in light of Military Red Hill fuel contamination of the the aquifer on Oahu about toxins from PTA possibly contaminating the drinking water of Hawaii Island.  Were military toxins found in the two water wells drilled at PTA 10 years ago?  Were the water wells tested for a wide range of military toxins? Why aren’t those wells being used by PTA instead of paying $2 million yearly to haul water to PTA?
4.  What are the military plans for clean up of all the Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and other toxins on the entire 133,000- acres of PTA?  I note that maps of PTA say “All of PTA should be considered a Dud Hazard Area.”
5.  It’s been reported that less than half of PTA has been surveyed for cultural sites in 75 years.  Why the delay in doing cultural surveys for the entire base?
6.  There are growing community concerns about not renewing or canceling the State lease of 23,000 acres for 65 years at a total cost of $1 and the rescinding of the US presidential executive order in 1964 that seized 84,000 acres of Hawaiian crown and government lands indefinitely for zero costs.
7.  What are the current number of live-rounds, and listing of all the various types of rounds, fired at PTA?  Is it 15 million, 20 million, 25 million?  The last figure I believe released about 20 years ago noted 14.8 million live rounds fired annually at PTA. What other rounds, besides live rounds, have been fired at PTA?

      Jim Albertini, president of Malu ‘Aina

Jim Albertini Malu ‘Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action P.O. Box 489 Ola’a (Kurtistown) Hawai’i 96760 Phone 808-966-7622 Email ja@malu-aina.org Visit us on the web at www.malu-aina.org