NRC meeting Pau: Results to come in Feb.

A great big mahalo to Jim Albertini, Issac Harp, Luwella Leonardi and Cory Harden for their testimony to the NRC, not to give the US Military a license to possess DU. 


Surprisingly the three judges asked hard questons to the military representative and the two young lawyers representing the NRC.  We expected the military representative to try very hard to discredit the testimony of the four brave Hawai'i residents.  But surprisingly the two lawyers from the NRC were also very determined to discredit the testimony saying they had no standing and no proof.  The proof needs to be on the shoulders of the polluters not the Hawaiian residents.  The judges findings will come sometime in Feb. and I will post results when I know them. Below is the news coverage from West Hawaii Today and Hawaii Tribune Herald.



HILO — Four Hawaii residents
charged the U.S. Army with trying
to cover up its discovery of depleted
uranium and then taking a
cavalier attitude about cleaning
it up during a five-hour hearing
Wednesday before a panel of the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The Army is seeking an afterthe-
fact license to possess the
radioactive material that was used
in weapons training at Schofield
Barracks on Oahu and Pohakuloa
Training Area on the Big Island.
The DU spotting rounds were
used in the 1960s and have been
emitting low levels of radiation
The Army contends the radiation
is too low to pose a safety
“We’ve been open, transparent
and we believe accountable with
the steps we have taken,” said
Lt. Col. Kent Herring, representing
the Army’s Environmental
Litigation Division. “The Army
has kept the public informed. ...
There’s no purposeful withholding.”
But the Army’s contention
is disputed by the petitioners,
Kurtistown resident and peace
activist Jim Albertini; Cory
Harden, representing the Sierra
Club; and two Native Hawaiians:
Isaac Harp, of Waimea, and

They say the Army has
never proven the radiation
is not harming those who
live and travel near the military
installations and they
criticized the Army for sampling
less than 1 percent
of the 133,000-acre PTA
installation off Saddle Road
between Mauna Loa and
Mauna Kea.
“The burden should be on
the Army to prove no harm.
The Army says there is no
harm because they haven’t
looked and don’t want to
look,” said Albertini. “A
license to possess depleted
uranium is a nuclear waste
The three-member Atomic
Safety and Licensing Board
grilled the Hawaii residents,
Army staff and NRC staffers
alike. A decision on whether
the petitioners have standing
to participate in the
license application will be
made next month.
The petitioners participated
by videoconference
from a cramped video booth
at the University of Hawaii
at Hilo, while the federal
officials participated from
a Rockville, Md., hearing
Both the Army and NRC
staff attorneys contend the
petitioners didn’t prove they
have a right to intervene in
the license application process.
Just living nearby is
not enough, they said. Nor
did the residents prove there
is greater health risks to
them because of the Army’s
“Their claims cannot be
entirely speculative,” said
NRC staff attorney Kimberly
Harp was hesitant to
believe the Army’s position
that there was no health
hazard associated with the
DU contamination. He
noted that the military has
a long history of conducting
biological and chemical warfare
experiments on the Big
Island under code names
such as Blue Tango, Yellow
Leaf, Green Mist and Tall
“No one knows how many
may have become ill, disabled
or died from these
experiments because only
the military and their partners
knew about them,”
Harp said.
Harden produced documents
showing the government
knew about the
DU at Schofield as early as
1996, not 2005 as the Army
“I think if it was gold and
not radioactivity, I think they
would have found a lot more
of it,” Harden said.
Even the administrative
judges weren’t completely
satisfied with the Army’s
position that it was using
a conservative estimate of
how many rounds were even
used at the two sites. The
Army can account for 714
rounds — containing 299
pounds of DU — shipped
to Hawaii. But it doesn’t
know if that’s all that was
sent to the state, because the
records have been lost.
“I’m still troubled by the
uncertainty of the numbers,”
said Judge Anthony Baratta.
Herring said the Army is
not dumping any DU contaminated
soil off-site, but it
has started collecting some
of it into 55-gallon drums
that are being stored at
And Herring said all live
round exercises now under
way at the two sites do not
fire high explosives into the
contaminated areas, but they
do use 50-caliber machine
guns, spotting rounds that
have just enough explosive
to create a puff of smoke and
120 mm mortar rounds.
“No high-explosive rounds
will be fired into DU areas,”
Herring said.


Testimony heard on DU request
by Peter Sur

Tribune-Herald Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010 7:09 AM HST
Group wants Army to clean up contamination
Four people urged a panel of judges to force the Army to clean up its depleted uranium-contaminated lands Wednesday.

During the videoconference hearing, which lasted more than five hours, an Army attorney acknowledged that there was no way of knowing how many rounds of depleted uranium were fired at Pohakuloa Training Area and that at least 714 rounds were shipped to Hawaii in the past.

But the Army also challenged the petitioners' standing, or right to bring a complaint, and said that even if they did have standing they did not have any admissible complaints.


The Army's position was shared by attorneys for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to the dismay of the petitioners.

The Army on Nov. 6, 2008, applied before the NRC for a license to possess and manage depleted uranium at nine -military installations, including Pohakuloa and Oahu's Schofield Barracks.

Jim Albertini, Cory Harden, Isaac Harp and Luwella Leonardi are opposing the license. They contend that the weak radioactive material left over after enriched uranium is removed is toxic and harmful to humans when vaporized and inhaled.

The Army has said the DU impact zones are in restricted areas and are not a threat to the public. The three-judge Licensing Board heard arguments from the petitioners, the Army and the NRC.

In the 1960s, spotting rounds containing depleted uranium were shipped to Hawaii so troops could practice with the Davy Crockett Recoilless Rifle. The gun was designed to fire a small nuclear warhead against ground troops. The DU was later rediscovered at Schofield, and in 2007 at Pohakuloa.

Wednesday, the petitioners gathered in a small room on the third floor of the University of Hawaii at Hilo's Mookini Library to argue their cases. They spoke by videoconference to the judges and attorneys for the Army and the NRC, who gathered in Rockville, Md.

About 10 people, friends of Albertini and Harden, watched the proceedings from a television set up just outside the room. The connection dropped several times.

Speaking first, Harden asked the Army to do a thorough search for "forgotten radioactive hazards" and said only 1,000 acres of the 51,000-acre impact area at Pohakuloa was adequately searched.

"If the military has nothing to hide," said Albertini, a peace activist, "prove it by transparency which at present is terribly lacking."

Harp and Leonardi both spoke of their heritage as Native Hawaiians. Leonardi lives in Waianae, Oahu, and discussed the situation at Schofield Barracks.

Presiding administrative Judge E. Ray Hawkens pressed the petitioners to give factual grounds for their contentions. Here they struggled, partly because they could not afford an attorney to argue their case.

"I'm not real sure at this time if I'm answering your question," Leonardi said at one point. She said that the "plumage" of DU-contaminated dust that rose over her community was responsible for many health problems.

The judges also asked tough questions of Lt. Col. Kent Herring of the Army Environmental Litigation Division. Herring said the 714 rounds represented 299 pounds of depleted uranium, assuming 6.7 ounces per round.

Judge Anthony J. Baratta, who holds a doctorate in nuclear physics, told Herring that the 714 rounds "is probably the minimum amount you can substantiate" and said the upper limit was likely 2,120 rounds.

Albertini, Harden and the others believe that more than 2,000 DU spotting rounds were fired at Pohakuloa in the 1960s. Depleted uranium is no longer used for training in Hawaii.

NRC attorneys said their independent federal agency would begin "enforcement actions" if the Army's license request were denied.

Without rendering an opinion on the Army's license request, the NRC attorneys argued that the petitioners lacked standing because they could not prove actual harm had been done to them.

The petitioners believe that the Army, not them, should bear the burden of proof in determining what is harmful.

Hawkens said a decision will be issued in February.

After the hearing ended, Albertini said he always holds "modest expectations," but added that he would continue to fight "for justice, and for the health of the future generations."

E-mail Peter Sur at

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  • Aloha,

    I scrolled down and decided to read old postings, I didn' t read this one thank you for posting. Will reread and post my thoughts. Sorry, that I read this only now March 14, 2010. Great posting! Kaohi
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