Underwater munitions research to explore harmful effects, if any

Photo: University of Hawaii

The University of Hawaii is about to enter its final phase of researching chemical munitions off Pearl Harbor.

On Tuesday, researchers with the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology will use a remotely operated vehicle to gather samples from the ocean floor.

Those samples will help determine whether munitions that were dumped after WWII are posing any threat to humans and the environment.

“What we’ve been able to determine by getting animals living in direct contact with the munition is that they are not absorbing any of the constituents on the inside of the chemical munition,” said Margo Edwards, UH Manoa senior research scientist.

Edwards says there are trace amounts of chemicals in the sediments and sand around the munitions, in parts per million.

The chances of divers coming across them are “very low, simply because it’s so far away,” she said.

The munitions, which include .50 caliber rounds, bombs, mortars and torpedoes, are located roughly 600 meters, or 1,800 feet, deep.

The university has been conducting undersea munitions assessments since 2007.

University of Hawaii Marine Center, Sand Island
University of Hawaii Marine Center, Sand Island

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