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.
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.