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Company, manager not guilty of hazardous waste violations in Waikele bunker

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    This 2011 photo shows the scene where five men died as a result of a fireworks explosion inside a storage bunker in Waikele.

A federal jury found the company and its top manager involved in a deadly 2011 fireworks explosion in a Waikele bunker not guilty today of permit violations for storing and treating hazardous waste.

The favorable verdicts for local explosives disposal company Donaldson Enterprises Inc. and Charles Donaldson, the company’s director of operations, caps off a four-week trial in U.S. District Court. The jurors deliberated for less than two days.

DEI employees Robert Kevin Freeman, Justin Joseph Kelii, Robert Leahey and Neil Benjamin Sprankle died in the Apr. 8, 2011 explosion and fire in a former Navy munitions bunker in Waikele. Bryan Cabalce died from his injuries at the hospital.

Charles Donaldson was also charged with conspiring to treat and store hazardous waste without a permit and of lying about having destroyed all of a particular batch of seized illegal fireworks. The judge dismissed the lying charge in the middle of trial after determining that the government did not present enough evidence to the jury to support the charge. The government then dropped the conspiracy charge after deciding not to present testimony from anyone who could have conspired with Donaldson.

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