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Hawaii officials to examine floating dock debris

May 23, 2012
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Debris samples from a floating dock system that washed up on West Oahu beaches have been turned over to the state Department of Health for examination.

State Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairman William Aila Jr. said that he collected pieces of plastic foam, concrete and wood over the weekend near Campbell Industrial Park. State health officials were to determine whether the debris is dangerous to animals or humans, Aila told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The debris on the beaches of Kalaeloa is clearly from a broken floating dock system, possibly from docks at Keehi Small Boat Harbor that broke apart during the March 2011 Japan tsunami or from dock systems at Pearl Harbor, Aila said.

"I realized that we weren't going to get any (Health Department) guys or my guys out there" over the weekend, Aila said. "So I grabbed a bunch of samples to turn in to DOH."

The department will look into whether there are any health risks but won't be testing the samples because it's clearly plastic foam, Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said Monday.

Environmentalist Carroll Cox said that he first found a quarter-mile-long debris field offshore while hiking on Friday. By the next day, the debris field was spread over up to three-quarters of a mile, he said, adding that he saw seabirds chasing flying pieces of plastic foam and saw a bird trying to eat a piece.

"It's laying there leaching into the tide pools and floating in the moss and (seaweed) where a great population of sea turtles lives," he said. He's concerned about what could happen if the plastic foam enters the marine food chain.



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