Cleaning up Hawaii Brownfields

Loretta Yajima
Loretta Yajima
Davis Bernstein
Davis Bernstein

(KAKAAKO) KHNL- There are hundreds of properties in Hawaii that could be contaminated from oil, lead or pesticides but increasingly, developers are being drawn to these sites, known as brownfields.

In Kakaako, kids are having a ball at the Children's Discovery Center.

In the nearly 40-thousand foot facility, kids can let their imaginations run wild, as parents let their kids go wild. "Its a place where children and parents can learn and grow together thru the most important way that children learn through play," said the Children's Discovery Center President, Loretta Yajima.

But the colorful place has a darker history.

Before it became such a vibrant play area, it was a dump. "We used to be the old city incinerator," said Yajima.

The smoke stack still stands as a reminder this was a old brownfield that has since been cleaned up.

Just like the Kakaako Waterfront Park built on the old landfill, Costco and Home Depot in Iwilei are also sitting on once unuseable land until contaminants were removed.

"As far as the public is concerned the property is safe to use," said the State's Brownfield Manager, Davis Bernstein.

The State is aggressively pushing to clean up other sites. And because of rising property values, brownfields are becoming more attractive to developers. "Unlike in other parts of the country the property is very valuable and the cleanup is very viable. There aren't too many properties that can't be cleaned up with today's technology," Bernstein added.

In Kakaako, you'll discover the proof:

Cleanups can turn once blighted properties into bright spots again. As a former brownfield is now home to a world of discoveries for young kids.

The State is targeting the most pressing brownfields in Hawaii, but cleaning them all up is expected to take nearly a decade to complete.