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EPA orders Oahu Sugar to begin cleanup investigation at Waipio Peninsula pesticide mixing site

Release Date: 3/30/2005
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

HONOLULU -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered Oahu Sugar Company, LLC to further investigate and address dioxin contamination at its former pesticide mixing plant on the Waipio Peninsula near Waipahu, Oahu.

"We are concerned about dioxins being released into the environment from the former mixing plant," said Keith Takata, Superfund division director for the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Region. "Oahu Sugar needs to determine how much contamination exists at the site and then control any releases to the environment."

A 2002 site investigation spurred by a State Department of Health administrative order found high levels of dioxins near Oahu Sugar's former pesticide mixing facility. This order and the state's previous order will insure that both federal and state environmental requirements are met.

Although a seven-foot high fence surrounds the one-acre area, investigators found repaired holes in the fence and evidence of bicycle tire tracks inside the fence during a site visit in September 2003. There is also the possibility of contaminated sediment going into Walker Bay from surface runoff and via a drainage ditch.

Oahu Sugar will need to:

-determine the full extent of contamination, which may extend outside the site's fence; and

-prevent exposure to contaminants in the soils until a final cleanup remedy is implemented.

Oahu Sugar leased the 3.5 acre site from the U.S. Navy sometime in the 1940's and closed its operation in the 1990's. The site was used to mix pesticides and fertilizer solutions, which were then loaded into backpacks, trucks, or aircraft for application into the surrounding sugar cane fields. The area is part of the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex Superfund Site.

Dioxins are man-made chemical compounds that enter the air through chemical and waste emissions. Skin rashes, liver damage, weight loss, and a reduction in the effectiveness of the immune system have all been attributed to human exposure to dioxins.
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