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O'okala Information Update for September 16th, 2020

Apparent Illegal Dumping Near O‘okala, Hawai‘i

Published by: HIRSC - Hawaii Island (Hilo) Team

On Monday, the leadership of the U.S. Army at Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA) was made aware by Hawaii County Civil Defense of the apparent illegal and unauthorized dumping of waste at a site on the Hamakua Coast, near the town of O‘okala, Hawai‘i Island.

The discarded refuse and recyclables found at the site include military munition storage

and shipping containers, metal rebar, and vegetable/fruit cans.

“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.

“The Army will transparently work with the Hawai‘i Department of Health and local

officials to help determine what happened, and if needed assist in clean up as permitted

by law,” Borce added.

PTA's records indicate a former disposal contractor may be responsible. The Army does

not haul and dispose of large-item recyclable or scrap material itself, but 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 of 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.”

The U.S. 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.

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