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EPA fines Honolulu-based home remodeler for lead safety violations

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                                The homepage of HK Construction Corp.’s website, seen today.


    The homepage of HK Construction Corp.’s website, seen today.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined Honolulu-based HK Construction Corp. nearly $15,000 for violations of federal regulations related to lead-based paint.

The firm will pay a $14,981 penalty for failing to comply with the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, which requires it to take steps to protect the public from lead exposure while doing residential remodeling work, according to the EPA.

“Renovating older homes can expose residents and workers to hazardous lead-based paint and dust,” said Amy Miller, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, in a news release. “EPA expects all renovation companies to ensure their contractors are trained, certified and follow lead safe work practices to protect public health.”

According to the EPA, during renovation work at residential properties in Honolulu, HK Construction Corp. did not retain proper records such as documentation ensuring that a certified renovator was assigned to the job, documents showing that on-the-job training was conducted for workers or that those performing the renovations were certified or trained by a certified renovator.

The company also failed to confirm that residential property owners received the required “Renovate Right” pamphlet.

HK Construction is an award-winning home remodeler and builder that offers design-build services, as well as additions and extensive remodeling, according to its website.

It has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since December 2008, according to records, been in business 27 years, and received an A-plus rating.

In a written statement, Alan Twu, vice president of HK Construction, said for over 25 years, the company has made the safety of its clients, workers, and the community a top priority.

“It is our standard practice to have a certified renovator on our projects and to comply with all city, state and federal regulations,” said Twu in the statement. “During this renovation project assessed by the EPA, a lack of documentation was discovered as our certified renovator transitioned to a different company. We have had a new certified renovator on staff continually following that project. We take our responsibility as one of Hawaii’s leading construction companies seriously. For that reason, we reached a settlement and accepted the EPA’s ruling for the project.”

“As part of our standard professional practices, we make all efforts to properly contain hazardous debris and dust,” he continued. “We ensure our workers have the proper PPE to work in all conditions. We also use proper containment methods and, when necessary, contact our local EPA instructor for guidance on keeping the residence safe. HK Construction remains committed to the safety of all who are directly and indirectly impacted by our work.”

The EPA said the enforcement action reinforces its commitment to addressing childhood lead exposure.

Lead exposure is most dangerous to children below the age of six, and can cause behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth and hearing issues.

Although the federal government banned residential use of lead-based paint in 1978, it is still present in millions of older homes, the EPA said, sometimes under layers of new paint.

The Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule was created to protect the public from lead-based paint hazards that occur during repair or remodeling in homes and child-occupied facilities such as schools built before 1978. It requires individuals performing renovations be properly trained and certified to follow lead-safe work practices. It also requires building contractors that renovate pre-1978 homes to be EPA certified.

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