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Divers investigate unexploded ordnance off Lanai

A map shows the location of suspected unexploded ordnance in the waters off Lanai. Photos courtesy of DLNR

The Maui News

Officials are considering how to dispose of three suspected unexploded ordnances discovered off the south shore of Lanai.

Two recreational divers reported the munitions, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a news release Wednesday. Based on the information from the divers, a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team located the ordnance about 300 yards offshore, in waters 74 to 94 feet deep.

Aquatic biologists from the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources investigated the ordnances on March 25 to identify any potential impacts on reefs and the marine environment. The munitions are likely from World War II, according to DLNR.

One ordnance found 94 feet down measured about 2.6 feet long and appeared to be mostly intact. The object is within 2 to 3 yards of significant rock bench and coral habitat.

A suspected unexploded ordnance rests on the ocean floor off the coast of Lanai.

The second ordnance was located about 82 feet deep, partially buried in sand and rock rubble. It measured 2.6 to 3.3 feet long and also appeared to be fully intact, with a few small coral recruits and green algae on and around the device.

A third item found in 80 feet of water is likely an empty metal pipe but was treated as an unexploded ordnance for safety reasons. Divers said that another unexploded ordnance could be in the same area, but they were unable to find it.

DLNR has asked the U.S. Army director of munitions and chemical matters to conduct a risk assessment, which, along with the DAR report, will help officials decide how to dispose of the ordnances.

Divers are asked to avoid the area until further notice.

“We will keep the Lanai community informed about any plans for these UXO, which could include leaving them in place,” DLNR Chairwoman Suzanne Case said in the news release. “In the meantime, we ask people to practice the 3Rs (Recognize, Retreat, Report) when they see any suspect UXO in the water or on land.”

Navy Region Hawaii supports requests from DLNR and the state for assistance in removing unexploded ordnances. The Navy, in coordination with DLNR, works with federal and state agencies to ensure compliance with applicable environmental and safety regulations, DLNR said.

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