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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 4:04 p.m., Monday, March 15, 2004

Three workers hurt in Kaho'olawe explosion

Advertiser Staff

Three civilian workers on Kaho'olawe suffered minor injuries about 9:20 this morning when an explosion occurred during work to cut up and crush inert ordnance collected on the island, the Navy said.

The three workers were taken by helicopter to Maui Memorial Medical Center, where all were treated and released. The workers are men ages 24, 33 and 59.

All three workers complained of ringing in their ears, said Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Davis. One suffered a shoulder injury, possibly from shrapnel or from a fall, though it did not break the skin, Davis said. A suspected case of concussion by one of the workers was ruled out, he said.

Two of the workers are employees of Parsons-UXB Joint Venture, a company contracted by the Navy to conduct ordnance clearance operations on Kaho'olawe, a former military target range. The third man works for a subcontractor to Parsons.

The explosion occurred during "mechanical demilitarization," which is the process of cutting and crushing inert ordnance to convert it to scrap metal. Davis said it appears an explosive device called a BDU-45 was involved in the explosion. A number of Web sites describe it as a 500-pound Navy practice bomb.

The Navy is investigating the incident, Davis said.

An official for Parsons-UXB referred questions from The Advertiser to Navy officials.