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EPA orders Estate of James Campbell and Sogo Hawaii, Inc. to cleanup the former Chem-Wood site / Action to address immediate hazards at property

Release Date: 12/15/2008
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711,

(12/15/08) HONOLULU - The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an order to the Estate of James Campbell and Sogo Hawaii, Inc., to cleanup and secure the former Chem-Wood wood treatment site in Ewa, Oahu.

The order issued under both the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requires the removal of equipment, tanks, and containers that contain hazardous materials and increased efforts to further secure the property.

In October, vandals broke into the Chem-Wood property to remove metal from tanks and containers to sell for recycling. In the course of doing so, approximately 300 pounds of copper chromated arsenic was spilled from the tank at the site. The Hawaii Department of Health’s Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office responded, contained the spill, and located and returned the tank to the Chem-Wood property.

“This order will result in removal of all hazardous material and increased site security to prevent future vandalism” said Jeff Scott, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Waste Division. “Property owners need to secure their sites awaiting cleanup to prevent similar situations.”

The order requires the Estate and Sogo to:

• Remove all equipment, tanks, containers that contained or contain hazardous materials from the former Chem-Wood operation, and also drums containing wood treating waste collected by the DOH from recent vandalism that are stored on site.

• Secure the site by creating plans for regular security monitoring and inspection, and repairing the fence surrounding the facility, including any access points.

• Inspect entire site to locate, inspect, and make any necessary repairs to groundwater monitoring wells to ensure that wells are not a pathway for surface contamination to migrate to groundwater.

Chem-Wood operated from 1973 to 1988 and used copper chromate arsenic and pentachlorophenol to treat wood. Numerous inspections between 1985 and 1988 by the Hawaii Department of Health and the EPA resulted in an order to clean up the site in September 1988.

As part of that order, Chem-Wood removed drums of hazardous waste, conducted soil and groundwater investigations, and installed an asphalt cap over contaminated soil at the Precision Wood site, a neighboring area contaminated from a spill at Chem-Wood.

In 1997, the company stopped cleanup of site and filed for bankruptcy. Presently the site is about half paved with asphalt or concrete, fenced and vacant with some remaining tanks, piping and debris. The property is currently in negotiations to be sold. Sogo Hawaii currently owns the former Chem-Wood property. The Estate of James Campbell owned the property during the operation of Chem-Wood and sold the property to Chem-Wood in 1989.

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