ala wai canal 1920 to 1928



With eight major military bases, Hawai'i is the most militarized zone in all of the USA. Like many sites on the islands, Diamond Head Crater, the extinct volcano at the end of Waikiki beach, is currently polluted with lead from the time that it was used as a training range for pistol and rifle fire by the US government's National Guard.

There is concern that as the bullets left in the soil degrade over time, there may be a risk to human health. Fine grade soil can be carried by wind as dust and breathed in by people and is the most likely way that people would be affected.

Lead can affect almost every organ and system in the body. The most sensitive is the central nervous system, particularly in children. Lead also damages kidneys and the reproductive system. The effects are the same whether it is breathed or swallowed.

Although lead poisoning has been known to be a life threatening hazard for a very long time, it is only as of August 2004, that the National Guard will start a soil reclamation project. They will use a soil washing technique similar to gold mining that uses gravity to separate the lead from the rest of the soil. This method has been chosen because it is said to provide the least impact to visitors. In all, it is estimated that about 21,000 tons of soil will be collected, stockpiled, and processed.

Source: Environment News Service (ENS) 2004