About 40 tons of contaminated soil from Radford High School wound up in the backyard of a home in the exclusive Haiku Plantations community in Kaneohe.
Hawaii News Now first reported that Department of Education and its contractors are facing a $1.1 million fine for their handling of more than 2,000 tons of this toxic dirt. Kaneohe residents now fault the DOE for failing to provide notices that the contaminated soil was put in their neighborhood.
"I'm just appalled that it was so close to my house. There are children all over the place. It's awful," said Michael Green, a longtime Haiku Plantations resident.
"It's not a good thing to keep secret. This is stuff that can be potentially fatal or can make you very, very sick."
A DOE spokeswoman declined comment, saying the matter is under legal review.
The DOE is being fined because the toxic material originated from Radford High School, which had served as a dump site for the U.S Navy between 1930s and 1950s.
According to an environmental report by the Navy's consultant, the Kaneohe soil contained more than four times the acceptable levels for lead and three times the safe levels for mercury.
City Councilmember Kymberly Pine said she's worried that toxic soils from other illegal dump sites are being sold homeowners around the islands. She says the DOE should have done a better job of ensuring that its contaminated materials from Radford were properly disposed of at a landfill.
"It's a very serious problem. Every homeowner should be worried right now about where their dirt in their backyard came from," she said.