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Toxins on Kauai in limited area


High levels of arsenic and dioxin in a former sugar cane mill area in Kilauea, Kauai, appear to be contained to a small residential parcel and a commercial lot, the state said yesterday.

Arsenic 30 times above acceptable levels was found in a residential lot near Aalona Street, and a nearby ditch in a commercial area had arsenic levels of about 80 times acceptable levels, the state said.

As a precaution, the Department of Health plans to take soil samples from other parcels to determine the extent of contamination, Deputy Director Gary Gill said.

Gill said officials spoke with a couple of area physicians and found no reports of residents suffering from arsenic or dioxin poisoning.

He said state officials will develop a remediation plan for the sites, including the possibility of removing the contaminated soil or capping the area with concrete.

Gill and other state health officials made a presentation to about 20 residents and property owners Wednesday night.

Kilauea resident Gary Pacheco said he was pleased with the presentation.

"They’re going to do a lot more testing than I anticipated," he said.

Pacheco said health officials tested the soil at a nearby day care center this past weekend and did not find high levels of dioxin or arsenic.

The department said the high levels of arsenic in the soil are believed related to the use of sodium arsenite and other arsenic-based herbicides in the 1920s through the 1940s.

The dioxins are believed to be associated with impurities in other types of pesticides, including pentacholorophenol, used in a pesticide-mixing area for Kilauea Sugar Mill, which closed in 1971, the department said.

Gill said they were discovered as a result of a state health study to identify contaminated sites.

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