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EPA awards $200,000 Brownfields grant to Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

Release Date: 06/29/2009
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541 2711

For Immediate Release: June 29, 2009
Contact: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov


EPA awards $200,000 Brownfields grant to Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
Cleanup of East Kapolei site will help protect affordable housing projects for native Hawaiians

HONOLULU -- Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Acting Regional Administrator Laura Yoshii awarded $200,000 in Brownfields cleanup grant funding to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).

The funding will be used to start clean up work on the Department’s East Kapolei site, clearing an area adjacent to locations planned for development of affordable housing for native Hawaiians.

“Today’s grant will help speed the cleanup and redevelopment of the East Kapolei area, providing jobs and creating new vibrant neighborhoods through needed affordable housing for deserving native Hawaiian families,” said Yoshii. “This is the goal of the Brownfields program - enabling communities to develop idle land into productive community assets.”

The grant funds will cover a portion of the cleanup cost, estimated to be in excess of $2 million dollars, to clean up the 0.6-acre East Kapolei Pesticide Mixing and Loading Area located off Pālehua Road in the ‘Ewa District of O‘ahu. The site and surrounding lands were used to cultivate sugarcane from around 1890 to 1994. Elevated concentrations of dioxins, furans, and other chemicals associated with agricultural pesticides have been found in soil samples. The public will have the opportunity to review and comment on approaches for cleaning up the site.

“We are pleased to be working with all of the different agencies on this project,” said Micah A. Kāne, Chair of the Hawaiian Homes Commission. “The effort to remediate these lands will take cooperation from everyone and we are looking forward these lands being productive again.”

“Restoring safe and productive reuse of this remarkable property is a priority for the Department of Health and after careful study of the entire 400 acre redevelopment project, we have determined that contamination is limited to less than an acre of land,” said Laurence Lau, Deputy Director for Environmental Health of the Hawai‘i State Department of Health. “We have a well designed process to protect future residents and users and look forward to public comment on cleanup alternatives that are now being drafted. The DOH would like to acknowledge the successful collaboration of many state agencies on this complex project, including DHHL, DBEDT and DLNR and to thank EPA and DBEDT for their important support of the cleanup effort.”

The grant award is part of an estimated $111.9 million in grants bolstered by funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 to help communities clean up sites known as Brownfields, which may be contaminated by hazardous chemicals or pollutants. The grants include $37.3 million from the Recovery Act and $74.6 million from the EPA Brownfields general program funding.

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"The Office of Planning is honored to have had the opportunity to add $1.97 million in Brownfield loan funds to DHHL to make possible the cleanup this site, so that affordable homes can built for native Hawaiian families. We want to thank U.S. EPA for making the Hawai‘i Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund possible and we look forward to making more loans to clean other contaminated sites in Hawai‘i." said Abbey Seth Mayer, director of the Hawai‘i State Office of Planning which manages the Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund.

Brownfields grants help to assess, clean up and redevelop abandoned or contaminated properties. These are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Grant recipients are selected through a national competition. The Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America's estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

More information on brownfields grants and other brownfields activities under the Recovery Act: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/eparecovery/index.htm.

A fact sheet on the East Kapolei site is available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/bf_factsheets/gfs/index.cfm?xpg_id=6727&display_type=HTML

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