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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 3, 2006

Air Force relying on old-timers to identify past munitions sites

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer


To provide information about old weapons ranges at Hickam, call Rick McComb at 449-1584, ext. 224. To learn more about cleanup efforts or to become involved in the 15th Airlift Wing's Restoration Advisory Board, call 449-1584, ext. 229.

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Hickam Air Force Base and Bellows Air Force Station officials are looking for a few older military members or civilians with memories of pre-1980s skeet ranges, rifle ranges and explosive ordnance disposal or chemical weapons sites at both bases.

"Old-timer interviews are going to be key," said Rick McComb, who is heading the military munitions portion of the environment cleanup program at Hickam. "We're looking for anyone who remembers ranges or training sites that aren't currently in use."

McComb said old maps show general outlines of two skeet ranges and a small-arms range that are no longer in use on the base, but no one currently serving at the base recalls an explosive ordnance disposal site mentioned on a national list of sites targeted for cleanup.

Once identified, military authorities will work up a plan to clear the sites of chemicals, explosives, metals and other debris.

The munitions program is part of an environmental cleanup program started in the mid-1980s, said Todd Lanning, chief of Environmental Restoration for the 15th Airlift Wing.

A project to clean up ground water contamination from beneath Hickam has been ongoing since 1996, he said.

More than 120,000 gallons of contaminates, about half the plume, have been removed, he said, and officials are working to determine when mechanical efforts should be stopped and nature should be allowed to continue the process.

Groundbreaking on a project to provide a better cap for a landfill beneath a golf course, expected to cost $1.8 million, is scheduled to begin in April, he said.

Reach Karen Blakeman at kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.