HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Multiple investigations are underway after blood tests showed nearly all personnel at the Koko Head Shooting Complex have elevated lead levels.
Hawaii Occupational Safety and Health has taken the lead in an investigation into occupational safety.
The State Ministry of Health is also examining possible environmental impacts.
Hawaii News Now confirmed that a hazard assessment and emergency response team conducted a preliminary inspection of the shooting range six days ago.
Officials said the inspection looked at possible environmental impacts and disposal practices.
A HIOSH spokesman said in an email the state is currently waiting for the city to turn over a list of the records. In particular, they have asked for documents showing how the range has disposed of and/or recycled metal, along with information on what has been done with lead-contaminated casings, cloth and soil.
The state also wants any records the city may have on so-called hazardous waste determination. This is a procedure to determine whether a waste is hazardous waste.
Meanwhile, DOH says it’s up to the city to test for lead on-site. The Stadtparkamt confirms that it has hired the necessary environmental consultants.
The possibility of lead contamination is an issue the city did not initially address.
Officials abruptly closed the complex in mid-September citing staffing issues and refused to answer our questions for six weeks.
Former Range Officer Chris Wong is among those demanding accountability.
“I believe the city has a responsibility to protect its workers,” he said.
Wong is one of at least two former employees who say they notified the city years ago after tests showed they too had elevated lead levels.
HNN Investigates also uncovered documents showing the city had known about the lead contamination at the firing range for at least two decades, but did little to protect its workers or educate them about the potential hazard.
“If they had known there were environmental hazards, it should have been prioritized much higher,” Wong said.
Meanwhile, gun owners on Oahu still don’t have a public shooting range.
“It feels like we’re in for an uphill battle here,” said gun enthusiast Spencer Hisatake.
Some say they’re not sure the city will do whatever it takes to get the complex open again.
“We don’t really have a vote of confidence that the government is going to do the right thing,” Hisatake said.
The city’s goal is to reopen the area. But there is no timeline as to when it might happen.
HNN has repeatedly asked Honolulu Parks Department officials what type of testing is being conducted at the site and when it is expected to begin. So far there has been no answer.
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