Photo V.A. SridharTern 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:

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Removal of Hazardous Materials, Sewage Wastewater and Asbestos Hazards from Tern Island