The proposal, based on findings from a 1995 land use study commissioned by the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, would move a Navy-run facility at Lualualei on the Leeward side to West Loch.
The military argues it will improve public safety by simplifying logistics, storing ordnance in newer facilities and requiring less transportation of explosive munitions on public roads.
But Ewa neighbors of the project, including many in Fevella’s district, feel the stockpiles put them at risk.
After a public outcry the Navy extended the public comment period but many residents felt the military didn’t do enough to inform the public and are still frustrated that the Navy seems unwilling to hold public hearings either in-person or online.
Many residents of Senator Kurt Fevella’s district feel the military hasn’t done enough to inform them about their plans in the West Loch.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
“The residents of ‘Ewa Beach, ‘Ewa by Gentry, West Loch Fairways, and the new Gentry NorthPark development must be fully informed about this proposal and a series of in-person hearings should be scheduled,” Fevella wrote to Navy officials.
“The residents and public have the right to know what is happening in their immediate area and information regarding this should not in placed in obscure legal notice sections in publications where residents of our affected communities … would never read or see” it.
West Loch was the scene of a deadly World War II munitions handling disaster during the preparations for the Battle of Saipan that was covered up by the military until the 1960s. Fevella referenced the tragedy in his letter, noting that while the Navy officially tallied 163 killed and 396 wounded “this total doesn’t account for Marine or Army stevedores who were present.”
Construction of the new Army storage facilities isn’t set to begin until 2022. Moving the Army’s munitions is part of a larger move from Lualualei to consolidate storage in West Loch. The Navy is also planning on building 24 new box storage magazines at West Loch and on Aug. 10 it awarded Honolulu construction contractor Nan Inc. $33.5 million to build them.
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Kevin Knodell covers the military and veterans and in Hawaii and the greater Pacific for Civil Beat as a corps member for Report For America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local news rooms.