History of PCB Use on Kure

The former U.S. Coast Guard Long Range Navigation (LORAN) station operations at LORAN Station Kure was open for a little over 40 years—from 1961 to 1992.

PCBs were used during the 60s to cool LORAN electrical components such as transformers and were later buried in the USCG landfill on Green Island. PCBs were discovered to cause cancer and disrupt the endocrine system in the ’70s and their use was internationally outlawed. Since 1992, in accordance with their closure agreement, contaminate testings were to be conducted every five years. The tests are conducted at Green Island’s landfill and reburial pit to evaluate potential soil, water, and biota contamination stemming from potentially hazardous materials left from the long-term occupation of the USCG LORAN station.

PCB Threats on Kure

PCBs bioaccumulate in animals, concentrating in top predator fatty tissues.  If PCBs were to migrate into the lagoon top predators that forage locally on Kure such as monk seals, jacks and eels would be at risk for accumulating PCB levels high enough to cause disease.

Soil Remediation

Several remediation projects over the past 25 years (1991, 1992,1993,1994, 2008-2009, 2011) had failed to correct elevated levels of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminates in the landfill. In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard Civil Engineering Unit Alaska and their contractor Environmental Elemental, LLC (located in Hawaii) excavated 400-600 cubic yards of contaminated PCB soil from the landfill and reburied it in a more secure location on Green Island.

The reburial project on Kure temporarily disturbed highly productive seabird nesting and monk seal pupping habitat. Removal of vegetation was necessary to access the contaminated soil and rebury it. Per agreement with the USCG–and in an effort to prevent erosion from wind, rain, tidal surge, invasive weeds, and flooding–the DLNR field crews re-planted the area once the USCG PCB Soil Remediation was complete. 

Related Pages

Habitat Restoration on the Abandoned USCG Runway Project

The United States Coast Guard LORAN-C Station Kure was constructed in 1960 and used as a radio navigation station from 1961-1993. Today, the Southwest end of the runway is called The Landfill. The Landfill is a main focal point for habitat restoration as a way to rebuild the dunes and encourage black-footed and Laysan albatross to move their nest sites away from the vulnerable beachfront onto the adjacent elevated runway where there is increased protection from storm surge and tsunamis.

Dune Restoration and Creation Project

The 20-foot dunes that rim Green Island on the west side are higher and more extensive than any other Northwestern Hawaiian Island dunes.The integrity and function of Kure’s important dune-shrub complex are threatened by invasive plants that out-compete the native dune-stabilizing shrub Scaevola taccada (Naupaka). The main priority for dune creation and stabilization focus directly on sand retention with native grasses and plants. 

Pollution Reduction

Pollution reduction focuses on both historic and present-day terrestrial/marine pollution that has plagued and inundated Kure’s community. This includes removing things environmental and chemical hazards such as marine pollution and soil remediation.