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EPA completes clean up of hazardous substances at Hakimo property / Location was subject of search warrant, individuals sentenced for federal firearms violations

Release Date: 03/13/2009
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(03/13/09) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently completed work to clean up and remove hazardous substances on a property on Hakimo Road in Leeward Oahu that was subject of a search and inspection done last year.

EPA Emergency Response staff led the clean up and removal of more than 1,000 tons of solid and hazardous wastes, lead acid batteries and contaminated soil, at a cost of more than $500,000. The action is part of a September order that required the owner and operator of the property to perform specific work under the direction of the EPA to clean up the property. The State of Hawaii Department of Health will continue to work on the site to address any remaining solid waste issues.

“EPA took on the responsibility and funded the clean up, taking action to get the contamination and hazards removed to prevent any risk to residents and the environment,” said Daniel Meer, Assistant Director of the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Superfund Division. “We ordered the owner and operator of the property to do the work, but the situation needed us to take steps to ensure the wastes were properly disposed.”

In May of 2008, special agents with the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, along with numerous federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, executed a federal search warrant on a ten acre parcel property and found numerous containers of waste oil, paints, solvents and greases abandoned throughout the property. The waste oil, paints, solvents and greases found at the site were characterized as hazardous, and because these containers were uncontrolled and presented a threat of release, the EPA disposed of them soon after discovery.

During the execution of the search warrant, federal law enforcement officers discovered that Richard Allen Botelho and Dwayne Luis Dano, both convicted felons, were in possession of firearms. Dano and Botelho later pleaded guilty to being felons in possession of firearms. Dano was sentenced on November 10, 2008, to a term of 18 months incarceration followed by 36 months of supervised release. Botelho was sentenced on March 12, 2009 to 24 months incarceration followed by 36 months supervised release.

“The combined efforts of the United States Attorney's Office, EPA Region 9's Emergency Response Section, EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, and the numerous other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies involved have greatly enhanced the protection of both the area residents and the environment,” said Nick Torres, Special Agent-in-Charge of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, Pacific Southwest Region.

The clean up of the property, convictions and sentences are the direct results of “Operation E Ola Pono 2008,” a joint effort by the United States Attorney's Office in Hawaii and EPA's Criminal Investigation Division to identify and investigate the illegal dumping of hazardous waste in Hawaii.

For information on hazardous waste, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/hazwaste.htm
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