Military-grade flare washes ashore

LIHUE — Last week, a military-grade ocean marker — or flare — used in air and sea rescue operations washed up on Marine Camp beach, on Kauai’s Eastside. Despite its hazardous warning label, the spent device remained on the beach until late Monday afternoon.

The metal cylinder, measuring approximately 2 feet in length, was first reported to the Kauai Police Department Aug. 4, according to county spokeswoman Sarah Blane.

Because the device washed up on state land, KPD transferred to the report to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, according to Blane. Yellow caution tape was erected around the flare.

“It was determined to be a military ocean marker, not an unexploded ordnance, primarily used by the U.S. Navy during training exercises,” Blane said.

No further action was taken by KPD until Monday, when The Garden Island informed county officials that the marker was still lying in the sand.

“Upon receiving reports that the device was located on shore today, police officers responded to the scene and safely removed it from the beach,” Blane wrote at approximately 4:30 p.m. Monday.

“Officers are now working with local and state Civil Defense to properly dispose of the device.”

In addition, Civil Defense has requested the assistance of the military’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal team from Oahu, according to Blane.

Deborah Ward, information specialist for the Hawaii DLNR, said officers with the department’s Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement were also on the scene Monday. She did not respond by press time to The Garden Island’s request for comment about why the DLNR did not dispose of the device following the Aug. 4 report.

The marker’s label, written in red letters, read, “Flammable. Do not handle. Contains phosphorous. May cause serious burns. Notify police or military.”

According to Blane, the marker did not pose an immediate danger to the public because it had already burned out.

Petty Officer Joshua Quinn of the U.S. Coast Guard in Lihue said the flares are designed to activate upon contact with water, and confirmed that the Guard often deploys the pyrotechnic devices from aircraft.

“We use them for training around the coast a lot,” he said.

Quinn encouraged anyone who does find one — live or spent — to call local authorities.

Stefan Alford, spokesman for the Pacific Missile Range Facility, said PMRF does not use the particular marker removed from the beach Monday.   

In June of 2011, a live marine marker was found by a Kauai resident walking along Aliomanu Beach, as reported by The Garden Island.

Local police called in the U.S. Army’s 706th EOD unit from Schofield Barracks, which identified the device as a MK-58 Marine Marker, used by the military in air and sea rescue operations as a target marker and surface wind indicator.

The incident marked the second time in less than a month that the EOD team had to fly to Kauai to destroy a device found on Kauai’s shores.

Marine markers, including the one disposed of Monday, contain two pyrotechnic candles, which can provide a continuous flame and white smoke for approximately 40 to 60 minutes.

• Chris D’Angelo, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or


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