Kaho'olawe work delayed by storms
By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Maui County Bureau
WAILUKU, Maui Stormy weather and other problems have postponed by almost a month the date by which the Navy's contractor is scheduled to finish its work on Kaho'olawe.
Parsons-UXB Joint Venture, which had been aiming to wrap up its efforts by March 12, now hopes to treat and ship out all of the project's unexploded ordnance, scrap metal and debris by April 9.
Tom McCabe, project manager, said heavy seas prevented the contractor's barge from visiting the island during January.
One particularly ferocious storm in mid-January swept most of the sand from the beach, McCabe said, exposing rocks on the shore where the barge sets down its ramp, resulting in a delay of about two weeks.
Other delays are linked to the backlog of range scrap and shells that still need to be treated for safe transport from the island, McCabe said.
During much of the federally financed, $400 million clearance project, some 400 employees traveled to the island daily to remove the unexploded ordnance left by 49 years of military target practice.
The federal government returned the island to the state in 1994, and the clearance project began in earnest in 1998.
McCabe said the operation began demobilizing with a round of layoffs in January, but some 250 employees remain on the island, including teams working seven days a week to treat and remove the final portions of the 8.9 million pounds of scrap collected over the past six years.
When the clearance operation finally does pack up and leave, a contractor hired by the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission will operate the base camp in the western corner of the island.
The commission last week approved a $1.85 million contract with Parsons Inc. to run the camp for 15 months.
Parsons is the same contractor that conducted the clearance project, minus its UXB International partner. McCabe will continue to oversee the Kaho'olawe crew, as well as the company's operations throughout the Pacific.
"We'll be changing from operational to caretaker mode," McCabe said.
Under the contract, four employees will operate the base camp during the week, with as few as two stationed there on weekends.
Stanton Enomoto, acting executive director of the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission, said his agency also will maintain a presence on the island.
Reach Timothy Hurley at (808) 244-4880 or email@example.com.