Home News Study finds contaminated water and soil at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay

Study finds contaminated water and soil at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay

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Hawaii Marine Base
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron S. Patterson/Released)

The state health department issued an advisory this morning, warning the public not to eat fish or shellfish caught in the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base Hawaii fuel pier and marina area due to unsafe levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Preliminary tests from two species of whole goatfish caught in the area indicate unsafe levels of PCBs, according to the health department. A sampling of sediment in the area also found PCBs above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state guidelines.

“A single large meal or occasional meals of fish caught in the area are not expected to cause illness from the PCB levels measured by the Navy in whole goatfish,” said state toxicologist Barbara Brooks in a statement. “However, frequent eating of contaminated fish from the area over a period of months or years may lead to the build-up of PCBs in the body to levels that may put a person at a higher risk for cancer or other diseases.”

Higher-risk groups such as pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who are planning a pregnancy and children are especially sensitive to PCBs.

An ongoing investigation by the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has shown the likely sources of the contaminants to be from electrical transformers that may have leaked PCB-containing fluids into the soil at the salvage yard used to store excess construction materials in the 1940s and 1950s.

The advisory will remain in effect until further notice for more extensive sampling. The MCBH has also issued a catch-and-release restriction for the area, where recreational fishing is permitted on a limited basis.
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