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
“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.