GROUPS ACCUSE ARMY OF MISLEADING PUBLIC
Kyle Kajihiro, program director of the American Friends Service Committee,
spoke yesterday at a press conference at Iolani Palace regarding depleted uranium
recovered at the Schofield Barracks range complex. The heavy metal was discovered
by contractors clearing land for the U.S. Army's Stryker Brigade. CINDY ELLEN
RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Army e-mails detailing the presence of spent metal at Schofield are
troubling, critics say
Several environmental and native Hawaiian groups are accusing the
Army of misleading the public after the groups discovered that a heavy metal
known as depleted uranium was recovered at Schofield Barracks' range complex.
During a news conference yesterday, the groups said the Army has repeatedly
assured the public that the heavy metal was never used in Hawaii.
"These recent revelations, then, indicate that the Army is either unaware
of its DU (depleted uranium) and chemical weapons use or has intentionally misled
the public. Both possibilities are deeply troubling," said Kyle Kajihiro,
program director of the American Friends Service Committee and member of DMZ-Hawaii/Aloha
Some members of the various groups read about the depleted uranium in e-mails
detailing documents submitted in federal court in December, showing that heavy
metals were found at Schofield Barracks' range complex area during clearing
The e-mail was submitted as part of an ongoing discovery process. At the end
of November, attorneys representing the 25th Infantry Division filed a motion
in federal court to amend a 2001 settlement so soldiers can resume live-fire
training at Makua Valley. The motion is scheduled to be heard Monday.
URANIUM AT SCHOFIELD
Depleted uranium tail assemblies have been found in a Schofield Barracks
range impact area, prompting some to question the Army's forthrightness.U.S.
ARMY PHOTO VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
The clearing was being done to prepare for the expansion of additional training
space and the construction of a rifle and pistol range for a new Stryker brigade
Depleted uranium is a byproduct of radioactive enriched uranium and has been
used by the U.S. military in bullets and other weapons designed to pierce armor.
Some researchers suspect exposure to depleted uranium might have caused chronic
fatigue and other symptoms in veterans of the first Gulf War, but there is no
conclusive evidence it has.
In a letter sent yesterday to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commanding general
of the 25th Infantry Division, Kajihiro wrote that several groups were outraged
by the use of the uranium, which they say poses a public health hazard even
in small amounts.
During community discussion on the Stryker Brigade environmental impact statement
in 2004, Army officials assured the public that depleted uranium was never used
in Hawaii, Kajihiro said.
Fifteen tail assemblies from spotting rounds made of D-38 uranium alloy, also
called depleted uranium, were recovered in August by Zapata Engineering, a contractor
hired by the military to clear the Schofield Barracks' range impact area of
unexploded ordnance and scrap metal, according to a news release from the 25th
In an e-mail dated Sept. 19, a contractor told an Army official at Schofield:
"We have found much that we did not expect, including recent find of depleted
uranium. We are pulling tons of frag and scrap out of the craters in the western
area to the point where it has basically turned into a manual sifting operation.
Had this not been a CWM site, we would have moved mechanical sifters in about
5 weeks ago but the danger is just too high."
Dr. Fred Dodge, Waianae resident and member of Malama Makua, said, "DU
is a heavy metal similar to lead. It can be toxic particularly to the kidneys,"
and could cause lung cancer if the metal in dust form is inhaled.
But U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii officials said the recovered depleted uranium
has low-level radioactivity and does not pose a threat to the public.
The tail assemblies are about 4 inches in length and an inch in diameter. Army
officials said they are from subcomponent remnants from training rounds associated
with an obsolete weapon system that was on Oahu in the 1960s.
"The Army has never intentionally misled the public concerning the presence
of DU on Army installations in Hawaii. This is an isolated incident and should
not be considered as an attempt to misinform the public," Col. Howard Killian,
commander of the U.S. Army Garrison Hawaii, said in a written statement.