Diver finds possible ordnance at Hapuna


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Hapuna Beach was closed Friday after a diver found unexploded ordnance.

Explosives experts from Schofield Barracks on Oahu were called in to dispose of the device, possibly an illumination flare. They were expected to arrive at the Big Island late that afternoon.

The diver found the device off the shore of the popular beach park and brought it to land, state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials said.

Dean Takebayashi, DLNR district park

superintendent, said Friday afternoon he was hopeful the beach will reopen today but he couldn’t say for sure.

It was unclear in how deep of water the device was found.

Takebayashi said the beach was closed at about noon.

A park caretaker was notified at about 8 a.m., he said.

Police then setup a 100-foot perimeter around the object while a contractor was called in to determine if it could be dangerous, he said.

Once that was confirmed, the beach was evacuated, which took about 30 to 45 minutes, Takebayashi said.

DLNR spokeswoman Deborah Ward said the diver had brought the device to a concession area.

“I understand he moved it somewhere back into the snack shop area,” she said.

“By which time people were figuring out we should leave this thing alone.”

The Waialea Beach, also part of the Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, remained open.

DLNR officials said such objects should not be moved.

“If they do find anything suspicious do not take or remove it,” Takebayashi said. “Just report it to our staff.”

Hapuna was used as an Army training area between 1943 and 1945.

It was swept for unexploded ordnance in 1946, 1954, and more recently in 2011.

Twenty-nine pieces of ordnance were found in deep waters off Hapuna in 1995.

Another 51 devices, including artillery shells, rockets, and mortars, were disposed by divers in 1997.

Since the ordnance was found in the water, no additional beach sweeps are planned.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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