Most tourists and residents of Hawaii have spent little time thinking about the danger of unexploded ordinance in Hawaii, but UXO poses a real injury risk throughout the islands. In December 2014, a swimmer in Kihei found an unexploded mortar round about 20 feet from shore. The swimmer proceeded to carry the item to shore and contact police.
The round was live and had to be taken by the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team from Oahu. The beach was blocked off for about 100 feet around the unexploded mortar round. Every year in Hawaii, people find unexploded ordnance on our islands. Tourists, inquisitive children, and local residents are at risk of injury or death from UXO. These incidents have occurred in state parks, beaches, and other locations.
There are UXO cleanup operations in various locations, including the Waikoloa Maneuver Area, the largest site in the nation for contamination of UXO. The project to remove all UXO from the area is expected to take decades to complete.
There are several locations where the military was involved in war simulations in which live artillery, ammunition, and explosives were used extensively. There are challenges involved in cleanup, as much of the land is now privately owned. The Department of Health is urging landowners within areas where battle simulations took place to allow cleanup crews in. On the big island, there are over 100,000 acres (purchased from Parker Ranch) that require decontamination.
What areas pose a high risk of finding a UXO? These items are found almost anywhere on the islands, with certain locations carrying the highest risk of the presence of UXOs of various types:
There are many military locations that could have UXOs, listed below:
There have been many injuries and deaths associated with UXOs, including some people who were tasked with removing and detonating the shells. At least nine people are reported to have been injured or killed by old artillery rounds. Children are particularly at risk as they are curious and may pick up a live round, a live grenade, mortar rounds, bombs of various shapes and sizes, and other UXOs.
Call Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner and speak to one of our personal injury attorneys at once if you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a UXO. We are Hawaii’s trusted injury law firm, with 100 years of shared legal experience.