BARKING SANDS — Representatives from Kauai’s conservation community recently met with representatives from the Pacific Missile Range Facility to discuss concerns that electromagnetic radiation coming from the high-powered radar and antennas could be the cause of coral’s decline.
“I walked away from the meeting today with a good understanding of the path we can now take to study and understand why we are suffering a massive die-off of our coral reefs here in Kauai,” marine biologist Terry Lilley said Wednesday.
Lilley has been documenting the decline of the coral reefs off Kauai since 2012, and is raising concerns about the military’s use of electromagnetic radiation and its effect on the reef.
Capt. Bruce Hay pointed out that PMRF is renowned for world-class training and testing, “but also recognized for environmental excellence.”
“Meetings such as the one that occurred this week only reinforce that we’re good neighbors and share the same values as our extended ohana, the community,” Hay said. “A positive dialogue was established between certified scientists and concerned citizens during the meeting.”
Stewart Simonson, an Atlanta-based senior chemical engineer who surveyed Kauai’s reef in 2014 and has been studying the area’s coral since then, said he thought the meeting was a step in the right direction.
“It has taken way too long — your reef is devastated,” Simonson said. “I have not seen a concrete plan of action from the meeting.”
Both he and Lilley said further studies on the root cause of the reef’s disintegration are desperately needed, but they have a few ideas on the cause of the disappearing coral.
After spending time underwater on Kauai and studying the reefs, Simonson’s theory is that the answer is accelerated corrosion — caused by an electrical current(s) in the ocean.