Kokua Line: Police or tow-truck crew clean street after fender-bender
Question: Could you please ask Chief Ballard why HPD officers do not clean up the toxic debris they leave behind from their road flares they put out?
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
Question: Could you please ask Chief Ballard why HPD officers do not clean up the toxic debris they leave behind from their road flares they put out? My 11-year-old daughter asked me this as we drove by Hind Drive and Kalanianaole Highway the other day going to school, when we both saw flare debris all over the road only a few feet away from a storm drain. They put the flares there the day before because of a power outage. She said they are being taught in school how important it is to keep our oceans clean and I know myself that those ashes contain lead, phosphorus and other chemicals. I’ve noticed too how after an accident HPD officers leave glass and debris in the roadway. I remember as a kid growing up the cops kept a dust pan and broom in their trunks and cleaned the roadways of this kind of debris. Also please ask her if and when they will start cleaning up like they used to.
Answer: “Chief Ballard’s out of town, but the officers will be reminded that they’re expected to remove the debris, such as flare residue, resulting from traffic collisions unless a tow wagon is called to the scene. If a tow wagon is present, the tow operator is expected to remove the collision debris,” Michelle Yu, a spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department, said in an email Tuesday.
You and your daughter are correct to be concerned about pollution getting into Oahu’s storm drains. When it rains, water may flow along Oahu’s streets and into its network of storm drains, carrying rubbish and other pollutants out to the ocean. “Unlike the sanitary sewer system, anything dumped into the storm drain system usually flows directly into the nearest stream or drainage channel without any treatment to remove pollutants. This is why it is important not to dump harmful products that could affect the ocean down the storm drains,” the city’s Storm Water Quality Branch explains on its website.
This is true whether the rubbish reaches the storm drain intentionally, such as when a groundskeeper wrongly blows leaves into it, or unintentionally, as when a heavy rainstorm carries street rubbish — such as the road flare you described — into the nearest storm drain.
The city has programs that focus on community involvement and targeted enforcement to reduce the amount of pollution reaching Oahu’s storm drains. To find out more about volunteering for an Adopt-A-Stream or Adopt-A-Block program, for examples, call the Environmental Concern Line at 768-3300.
Q: Auwe. I’d like to complain about the bulk pickup appointment system. I leave my name and number and nobody calls me back.
A: Your complaint refers to the Honolulu Bulky Item Collection Pilot program, which includes residential customers from Foster Village to Hawaii Kai, who no longer receive automatic monthly service. Customers with internet access can make an appointment online, at opala.org. Customers who lack internet access must call 768-3200 to make an appointment to have bulky rubbish picked up.
We followed up with Markus Owens, spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Services, who said your complaint is unusual. Calls generally are returned by the next business day.
If you can’t make an appointment online:
>> Call 768-3200 and press zero during the recorded greeting.
>> Call Mondays through Fridays from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. (not on holidays, weekends or after hours). If you get the voice mail, clearly state a brief message that includes your name and phone number.
“In general, if the public left a message and it is not returned by the end of the next business day, please give our staff a call back,” Owens said.
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.