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Prevent the Bombing of Molokini, July 2020

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Two WWII-era explosives were identified in the waters around Molokini Crater on Maui.

These unexploded ordnances (UXOs), or military explosives that did not detonate as intended, must be removed for obvious threats to public safety. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources in conjunction with the Department of Health, the US Navy, and other agencies are currently evaluating ways of removing these UXOs. One proposed course of action is the controlled detonation of the UXOs in place. This would devastate local marine wildlife and disrupt the delicate ecosystems nearby. It’s important to note that no final decision regarding the detonation of these UXOs has been made at the time of this petition’s publishing.

To the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Department of Health, the U.S. Navy, and all other entities involved: we respectfully ask that you search for another solution to address these UXOs, one that ensures proper care of the explosives and the safety of all persons involved while also respecting the marine ecosystem in Molokini that is sure to be destroyed by a concentrated blast. Please explore every alternative, seek additional public and expert input, and continue to be transparent in your plans.

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Thank you to Rep. Tina Wildberger for alerting me and my community to this topic with her Instagram post (@repwildberger). Below is a transcript of her letter from June 26, 2020:

Statement regarding Navy’s planned bombing of Molokini in July

Environmentalists, Marine Conservation Experts and respected Dive Professionals join me in expressing outrage that the Navy is scheduled to detonate a piece of buried ordnance inside Molokini in the coming weeks. It is unacceptable that this has progressed this far without proper consultations and public input.

I beseech the Navy to use imagination, thought, care and consideration, and not take the easy way out and detonate this ordnance adjacent to some of the healthiest and most famed coral reef in the state, which has been growing for centuries, and in the vicinity of endangered species like Hawksbill Sea Turtles known to frequent the crater.

Molokini is a unique marine resource that has been in conservation since 1977 when the crater and the surrounding 77 acres of underwater terrain were declared a Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD). The fact that the Navy wants to come up with no solution to safely lift the bomb and tow it into deep water is patently unacceptable. In fact, I’ve been made aware that other solutions do exist which do not include intentional detonation.

With all the technology available to the United State Navy, I submit that an alternative to bombing Molokini – which is exactly what detonating the ordnance is – needs to be found. The damage that would be done would be irreparable.