Thursday, November 26, 2015         

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Army gets OK for depleted uranium at Schofield, Pohakuloa

By Associated Press


HILO » The Army has been granted a license to possess depleted uranium at two Hawaii training areas.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday issued the license for the Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island and Schofield Barracks on Oahu, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.

The military between 1960 and 1968 used 8-by-1-inch spotting rounds containing 6.7 ounces of depleted uranium alloy to identify the flight path of Davy Crockett warheads, according to the Army Garrison-Hawaii website. The weakly radioactive alloy was used to add weight to the spotting rounds so they could mimic the flight of the warheads.

The Army six years ago revealed that such rounds were fired at the two locations about 50 years ago.

Fragments were found first at Schofield Barracks. A review of Army records indicated their use at Pohakuloa.

The Army had operated with a license to manufacture and distribute the spotting rounds. The Atomic Energy Commission license expired in 1978.

The NRC determined that enough depleted uranium had been used to warrant a new license for possession. The license authorizes possession of 275 pounds of depleted uranium and puts in place regulations to address contamination.

No additional use of depleted uranium is authorized. The license requires air and plant sampling plans within 90 days.

A safety plan establishes a "radiation control area" where spotting rounds had been fired and requires the Army to notify the NRC when explosives will be used.

The Pohakuloa facility covers 133,000 acres. The affected nuclear area is about 2,190 acres, Clint German, safety manager for U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, said by email.

Peace activist Jim Albertini said the license is inadequate.

"The real issue is all live fire needs to be stopped at Pohakuloa and cleanup of all depleted uranium that is present," he said.

Depleted uranium likely is more widespread than the Army has acknowledged, he added.

Any cleanup would have to be approved by the NRC, German said.

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