Repairs to protect Kalihi neighborhood from lead poisoning still months away

Repairs to protect Kalihi neighborhood from lead poisoning still months away

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the asphalt on Factory Street wears thin, the city is scraping together a plan to keep the lead buried below it covered -- and keep the community safe.

Officials say work is expected to start this summer, but an exact date hasn't been nailed down. Repairs will be done when the companies resurfacing other streets in the area are available.

"The best thing for it is to put a layer of asphalt over the road for now, until we can take care of it properly," said Robert Kroning, of the City's Department of Design and Construction.

The Department of Health first discovered the contaminated soil in the early 90s. The worst of it was removed, and the rest was covered with a layer of asphalt.

But for more than two decades, the road was neglected after city and state government officials forgot about the site. Most neighbors say they weren't told about the lead in the 90s, and they haven't been told anything since health officials rediscovered it last August.

"I just feel very disheartened," said Kealii Lum. "We pay our property taxes. We do every thing that somebody in Hawaii Kai or a nicer neighborhood would do, and for them not to let us know... You know, we have kids that play in that soil."

Lum says he's been complaining about the potholes and cracks in front of his Factory Street home since 2007. Just this December, the city told him it would "discontinue maintenance of Factory Street" because of signs banning parking on the road.

Although the road and it's shoulder are private property, the Environmental Protection Agency told the city and the state in the 90s they needed to make sure the asphalt was maintained and that the soil wasn't disturbed without precautions.

Now, the city is saying it will do the work  ... just not everything that's needed.

"We cannot do the shoulders, so the Department of Health is looking at working with private landowners, I believe, to get the shoulders done," said Kroning.

The state says it will be sending out letters next week with information on what's happening in the area. Health officials say if you're concerned about lead, call your doctor or pediatrician and ask for a lead screening.

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