Island is the largest island in the coral reef atoll known as French Frigate
Shoals. The entire atoll and its lagoon are part of the Hawaiian Islands National
Wildlife Refuge. From 1952 to 1979, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) operated a
station on Tern Island. Prior to this, the U.S. Navy operated an airfield
on the island from 1942 to 1946. The following environmental concerns were
identified as a result of an Environmental Compliance Audit.
A large generator building was left
by the USCG. The Refuge needed to use this building for workshops and storage,
however, the generator room ceiling was coated with a layer of asbestos which
was applied as a flock' to the building surface. It was highly friable
and starting to crumble and spread inside and outside the building. Due to the
Refuge not occupying the building, several seabirds were finding ways into the
building and nesting on the window ledges and on materials stacked around the
generator room. Refuge personnel attempted to block this wildlife ingress with
limited success. A contractor had removed asbestos from a portion of the building
but deteriorating, encapsulated bags of asbestos needed to be transported off
the atoll. Tthe USCG Barracks buildings served as the office and living quarters
for the permanent manager and numerous volunteers and visiting researchers.
Sewage flows from the facility entered a septic tank that had not been cleaned
for several years. Due to the isolation and limited fresh water supply at Tern,
salt water was used to flush toilets resulting in inadequate decomposition of
waste. Documented contaminants in the waste include PCB's and lead. It was necessary
to do something as the tank was 'brimming' and about to overflow. Overflow of
the tank would have contaminated pupping beaches used by the endangered Hawaiian
monk seal, nesting beaches of the threatened Hawaiian green sea turtle, and
the offshore reef.
As a result of this cleanup project,
the following tasks were accomplished:
- Asbestos Removal - This project
was accomplished using a contractor from Honolulu, HI, and involved removing
thermal asbestos from the ceiling in the bunk house and generator building
(approx 2500 sq. ft ), computer room floor tiles (approx 1500 sq ft) in
the generator building and transite asbestos from the wall space (approx
500 sq ft). The asbestos was bagged, transported and properly disposed of.
- Storage of Fuel - Three 500
gallon, double walled steel tanks with Fiber Reinforced Polymer coating
were purchased for storing unleaded gasoline (marine use - 2 tanks) and
diesel (generator use - 1 tank).
- Solid Waste Removal - all the
solid waste items, most left over by the military personnel, were removed
from the island. Most of the items will be recycled. The waste included
old generators, associated piping, heaters, freezers, control panels, marine
debris and old furniture.
- Septic Improvement - The old
septic system was modified through a newly installed septic tank which facilitates
natural disintegration of the solids. The water passes through the old septic
tank's liquid compartment to an existing leach field.
- Cleaning water tanks - Liners
in existing redwood water tanks were deteriorated and needed cleaning. A
contractor removed the old liners and sediments in the bottom of the tanks
(including dead birds in three of the tanks) and installed new liners on
all 5 redwood water storage tanks (capacity approx 12,000 gallons each).
One tank is now exclusively used to store purified water for drinking purposes.
The liners have a 10 year warranty under normal uses.
- Solar Power modification -
The new addition will add more than 5 KW by using two new power inverters'.
The new system will be dedicated to run the Reverse Osmosis Water system.
- Reverse Osmosis Water system
- A 1200 gallon per day (approx 60 gallons per hour) capacity RO system
was purchased and installed.
to Refuge Cleanup Page
of Hazardous Materials, Sewage Wastewater and Asbestos Hazards from Tern Island