comscore Health officials seeking public comment on lead removal plan at shuttered Big Isle park | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Health officials seeking public comment on lead removal plan at shuttered Big Isle park

For four years, Kolekole Beach Park on the windward side of Hawaii island has remained closed to the public due to potentially hazardous levels of lead in the soil.

The Hawaii Department of Health is now accepting public comments on a proposed remediation plan to address the lead found in soil near Kolekole Stream Bridge at the beach park in Honomu, with hopes of opening it to the public once again.

Kolekole Stream Bridge was originally part of a railroad in the early 1900s, and rebuilt in 1950 for use by vehicles. Over five decades, lead paint on the bridge dispersed into the soil below, causing the contamination.

According to officials, lead paint on the bridge was not removed until 2001.

The park has been closed since April 2017, and officials last year took a number of interim measures to reduce lead exposure to the public by maintaining a healthy grass cover and applying mulch on all bare soil spots, and installing fencing around the areas with the highest levels of lead. Activities that would expose bare soil are also restricted.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation has chosen the strategy of disposal, isolation, and containment as the most cost-effective long-term solution among six that were proposed.

The soil with high levels of lead would be removed for offsite disposal, and replaced with clean fill.

This option, DOT said, will reduce risk of exposure for the public, remove the source of contamination, eliminate the need for an environmental hazard management plan and remove the possibility of lead-tainted soil or sediment from becoming exposed during future flooding or erosion.

This would permanently reduce the volume of contamination on-site, eliminating the need for further monitoring or maintenance. After the cleanup, the park can be reopened for public use.

Lead-contaminated soil poses a health risk to young children who play in the park because lead can be harmful to children who accidentally eat small amounts of it. Lead is particularly harmful to children’s developing brains and neurologic systems.

The proposed plan is viewable in person at 300 Waianuenue Ave. in Hilo or online at health.hawaii.gov/heer/kolekolegulchpark.

Written comments may be e-mailed to Thomas Gilmore, DOH’s remedial project manager, at thomas.gilmore@doh.hawaii.gov by Nov. 30.

Written comments also may be mailed to Thomas Gilmore at Hawaii Department of Health, Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Office, 2385 Waimano Home Road No. 100, Pearl City, HI 96782. The written comments must be postmarked by Nov. 30.

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