Update: Army completes investigation of April 6 UXO accident

From: Bugala, Amy L CIV USARMY USAG (US)

Aloha Senator Shimabukuro,

We wanted to provide you with an update on the April UXO incident at Makua Military Reservation.

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Officials with U.S. Army Hawaii, the United States Army Technical Center for Explosives Safety and the Army Combat Readiness Center have completed the accident investigation surrounding the April 6, 2015, injury of two contractors at the Makua Military Reservation (MMR).

Two vegetation maintenance contractors with NuGate Group, LLC, were injured when an unexploded round from an anti-tank weapon exploded in the area where the two contractors were working.

The workers were conducting routine grass cutting nearly a mile inside the south side of the valley at Makua as part of the Army’s environmental requirements when one contractor unknowingly contacted the round.

Investigators determined the round to be a 66mm High Explosive Anti-Tank

(HEAT) fired from a M72 Series Light Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW). The LAW was developed in the 1960s and was fired on the range until the 1980s.

Investigators could not determine when the round had been fired at MMR or by what unit or organization.

“The safety and well-being of our Soldiers, Army civilians, contractors and public visitors to our ranges and facilities is one of our highest training priorities,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Flynn, commander, U.S. Army Hawaii.

“With the investigation complete, we will redouble our hazard awareness and safety procedures to prevent tragic incidents like this from occurring again.”

Regular vegetation maintenance is required to protect natural resources in the valley and prevent wildfires, while supporting military training.

Vegetation maintenance occurs at MMR on a continual basis.

When the incident occurred, Army personnel at MMR provided life-saving measures to the injured contractors until emergency responders from the Honolulu Fire Department arrived on scene. An Army-contracted medical evacuation helicopter transported the injured to Queens Medical Center.

NuGate Group, LLC, has held the vegetation maintenance contract since July 1, 2013. Per the contract, workers are required to attend a high explosive and fire prevention safety briefing, which includes training on safety and accident reporting.

The Army will continue to respect the privacy of the contractors involved in the incident. Questions regarding them or their medical status are being directed to their employer, NuGate Group, LLC.

MMR has been closed to all Army training and public access since the incident occurred. Training and cultural access activities will resume at MMR after mitigation measures are implemented addressing the investigation report’s findings and recommendations.  MMR is anticipated to reopen within 60-90 days.

For questions contact U.S. Army Hawaii / U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, Public Affairs Officer, Dennis Drake, at 656-3154 or dennis.c.drake.civ@mail.mil.

________________________________________

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii and U.S. Army Hawaii Public Affairs Office
usaghi.comrel@gmail.com

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