The U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii said it was removing several large rocks this week that were placed without the proper environmental permit on a sandy section of Pokai Bay as a temporary wave barrier.
The rocks were intended to break up the waves and protect workers repairing a sea wall farther inland at Pililaau Army Recreation Center. Army spokesman Loran Doane said the sea wall was damaged during winter storms of 2008 and 2009.
More than 20 bags of sand and crushed coral the Army had also placed at the beach were removed last week.
The Army’s actions follow a Star-Advertiser inquiry after Waianae residents complained that the bags and rocks posed a hazard to surfers and that the bags were leaking a white substance into the bay.
The Army said it was able to repair the sea wall at the recreation center because the work was above the high-water mark and was not within the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. But the Army said the bags and rocks were located below the high water mark, within the Army Corps’ jurisdiction, and was unauthorized.
The corps conducted a site inspection last week, and the Army announced that the temporary wave barrier was being removed "in its entirety."
"The Corps of Engineers will not pursue enforcement action," the U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii said.
Residents complained about a milky substance they said was leaching from the bags into the bay after noticing the construction activity on Sept. 10.
A state conservation officer who was called to look into a complaint saw a 50- to 100-yard white plume extending out into the bay that seemed to come from Army construction activity, said Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Ward said the investigation was continuing, and it was unclear whether the state laws applied in the Army section of the bay.
Pokai Bay resident Bunky Bakutis said he was worried about the rocks posing a hazard to residents, including youths who use the area for surfing. "I think safety is a real factor," Bakutis said. "Every day, every hour is an accident ready to happen."