The removal of lead-contaminated soil under Factory Street in Kalihi-Palama will be delayed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Friday but gave no date when the removal would begin.
The work originally was to start sometime this month. The EPA only said in a statement Friday that it expects to complete the project sometime next year.
“While EPA considers this work a priority, additional time is needed to find a location to dispose of project debris and soil with lower levels of lead,” the EPA said in an announcement. “In the next month, EPA will cover potholes to reduce exposure to contaminated soil until the project can be completed.”
Earlier this month, the EPA said it needed to remove the soil under Factory Street “to abate the potential imminent and substantial endangerment posed by lead contamination to this densely populated neighborhood.”
Because the street has no designated owner, the EPA asked the federal court for an administrative warrant to access the property.
Originally the agency said the work will be done from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and should take three to four weeks to complete. At least two days before it begins the work the EPA said it will leave flyers at homes and businesses and post no-parking signs in the neighborhood. The agency said it already has secured the use of other property for staging of equipment, transportation and storage.
The EPA and state Department of Health have known that soils in various locations of Factory Street between King and Waterhouse streets contain elevated lead concentrations, exceeding both the EPA Residential Screening Level and state DOH Environmental Action Level for unrestricted use. In 1995 and 1996 they decided that no action was necessary because the pavement prevented exposure to residents.
In recent years, however, the city stopped maintaining the street and the asphalt has been crumbling, forming cracks and potholes, exposing the contaminated soil to the surface. Residents also say concrete caps on some of the holes drilled into the pavement to test the soil underneath are no longer there.