After the military found six unexploded mortars and grenades in and around popular beach locations on the east side of Oahu, Hawaii officials are warning beachgoers to exercise caution. Around World War II, the military used the areas for aerial bombing and training exercises, leaving behind munition that could explode if disturbed.
According to Sven Lindstrom of the Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office, the Air Force has placed several no trespassing signs at Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo between the former Large Bomb Range and the former Urban Warfare Training Facility. Beaches like Lanikai Beach and Sherwood Forest Beach are all around the station.
According to Lindstrom, this location should be off-limits to the general public but is frequently utilised by trespassers and the homeless and is conveniently accessible from Waimanalo town and the nearby public beach.
Unexploded ordnance: Is it harmful?
The military warns against digging, putting tent stakes, and constructing sand castles on the base’s beaches, which are only open to service members and their guests.
Unexploded munitions may be found rusted and buried partially in sand or behind foliage, according to a military outreach film from 2022. There is a disclaimer in the video that “it may not always look like ammo.”
Can I use the beaches right now?
Kayakers, swimmers, and anglers adore Kaneohe Bay.
Yes, provided you stay out of designated off-limits locations and exercise caution when using the water.
When in the bays close to Waimanalo, the military advises visitors to pay close attention. The military also conducted training exercises for munitions on the surrounding offshore Manana and Kaohikaipo islands during World War II. The military and the general public have lately discovered unexploded munitions in the waters in Kailua, Waimanalo, and Kaneohe.
The Navy disposed of one unexploded bomb at Kaneohe Bay in 2021 and detonated another, creating a 40-foot-high water blast.
According to HawaiiNewsNow, residents have complained to the authorities about using the beaches and perhaps coming across an unexploded ordnance while out fishing.
How does the military locate and dispose of unexplained explosive devices?
The majority of the unexploded bombs that the military has found were only four feet or less below ground.
To find, map, and assess abnormalities, they employ a range of metal detectors with specialised sensors and GPS trackers. Anomalies that may be UXO are intrusively explored for removal, typically by hand-digging, according to Lindstrom. Depending on the sensitivity of the ordnance, the military may destroy the device there or remove it for disposal in a specified area.
The military’s Time Critical Removal Action to deal with the ordnance in the two former bomb sites will get underway this summer. The Bellows removal process started in the late 1990s, according to Lindstrom.
One of the several locations in Hawaii used by the military for practise is the Bellows Air Force Station, which was built in 1917 for aircraft gunnery, strafing and bombing exercises. The military began transferring about 500 acres for recreational use in the 1980s. There are already beaches, chalets, trails, and a driving range in the region.