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Company, 2 employees indicted in Waikele fatal explosion case

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 10:55 a.m. HST, Sep 28, 2012

More than a year after a fireworks explosion in a Waikele bunker killed five people, a federal grand jury has indicted two men and their company for engaging in the unpermitted treatment of hazardous wastes.

Indicted by the federal grand jury Thursday for conspiring to treat hazardous wastes without a permit were Charles Donaldson, 37, of Kaneohe; and Carlton Finley, 65; and Donaldson Enterprises Inc, a Hawaii corporation. The grand jury also charged Donaldson, Finley and DEI with 20 counts of treating hazardous wastes without a permit.

Donaldson was the company's director of operations, and Finley was the project manager.

U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni said DEI entered into a contract with another company and rented a storage bunker at Waikele to store commercial grade fireworks that had been seized by federal law enforcement.

 Upon notification that commercial grade fireworks, which were initially stored as evidence, were no longer needed as evidence, DEI was required to manage and dispose of these “now discarded” commercial grade fireworks as hazardous wastes.

The indictment said DEI initially obtained a temporary emergency permit from the state Department of Health that allowed DEI to transport the discarded commercial grade fireworks to the Koko Head Firing Range for burning. DEI’s temporary emergency permit expired on Sept. 5, 2010.

The indictment further alleges that between Sept. 8, 2010, and April 8, 2011, Donaldson, Finley, and DEI treated hazardous wastes at the Waikele bunker. The  commercial grade fireworks were broken apart or cut open or soaked in diesel fuel without a health department permit.

 The indictment alleges that on April 8, 2011, while DEI employees were engaged in the unpermitted treatment of hazardous wastes, an explosion occurred at DEI’s Waikele bunker killing DEI employees Bryan Cabalce, Robert Freeman, Robert Leahey, Justin Kelii and Neil Sprankle.

The families have filed multiple lawsuits in connection with the deaths.

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daniwitz13 wrote:
Kind of defies logic that the People responsible to monitor and check for deficiencies, OSHA and the like would check for their license renewals and compliance would be super critical of an enterprise dealing with explosives. There were never a mention that there are other people in this hazardous business. I can only assume that they are the ONLY ones. This seems like a negligence on the Dept. that monitors these things. If this explosives were evidence for a trial to convict the importer, who made Donaldson responsible to dispose of it? It does NOT mention that he was compensated to take care of it. Who ever paid for it might possibly be responsible too, releasing it to a Company with no license? Seems to me like Donaldson is the scapegoat for the Govt. Agencies that neglected to fully check and fully certify that an Enterprise handling EXPLOSIVES are legit and NOT terrorists for that matter. Why not make the ones that confiscated the fireworks destroy it themselves? This does NOT seem right. Pity.
on September 28,2012 | 11:57AM
nitpikker wrote:
and the guy responsible in rhe first place gets off scot-free?? something not right here.
on September 28,2012 | 12:47PM
lynnh wrote:
It was given to them by law enforcement to store as evidence. So...should not "law enforcement" be held responsible for giving high explosives to a non-permitted company.
on September 28,2012 | 08:49PM
Tarakian wrote:
What if they had a permit?
on September 28,2012 | 02:04PM
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