April 3, 2007


Contact: David Hall, NOAA Ocean Service, (301) 713-3066 ext. 191

NOAA released the results of a June 2006 survey of an underwater area
off the Hawaiian island of Oahu where discarded military munitions are
present. The survey of the area has verified the presence of munitions
ranging from small arms projectiles to large-caliber artillery
projectiles and naval gun ammunition. The survey was conducted by NOAA,
with assistance from the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department
of Land and Natural Resources.

No explosives or related compounds were detected in the fish samples
taken during the survey. With the exception of copper, metal levels in
sediment samples from the study area were low overall. Most munitions
were covered with coral growth and provided some of the only refuge for
fish on the otherwise uncolonized hard bottom.

The munitions were found in depths ranging from 24 feet to the maximum
depth of the study area, 300 feet. Scientists did not detect the
presence of the explosives cyclonite (RDX), trinitrotoluene (TNT), or
tetryl during the sampling effort. A related munitions compound,
dinitrotoluene (DNT), was detected in four sediment samples (three near
munitions, one not associated with munitions).

During the two-week survey, requested and funded by the Department of
Defense, scientists combed a five-square-nautical-mile area off Pokai
Bay known as "Ordnance Reef" with sophisticated seafloor mapping and
imaging equipment to determine the boundary of the munitions area and
the presence or absence of munitions constituents, such as explosives
and metals. The survey team deployed a remotely operated vehicle and
specially trained scuba divers to collect water, fish and sediment
samples for analysis by the university and two independent laboratories.

The results of the survey will serve as the basis for a DoD evaluation
of the potential safety and environmental risks associated with the
presence of munitions.

NOAA offices involved in the survey included the NOAA National Marine
Sanctuary Program, NOAA Office of Coast Survey, NOAA Office of Response
and Restoration, NOAA Office of Special Projects and NOAA Fisheries
Service's Pacific Regional Office.

On the Internet:


NOAA Ordnance Reef Survey Project Report

Maps of Ordnance Reef Survey

U.S. Army's Unexploded Ordnance Safety Education Program

Greg Hernandez
Media Relations and Online Editor
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