HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Four years after officials rediscovered a toxic dumpsite in a Kalihi neighborhood, a $1.3 million project is finally underway to remove the lead-contaminated soil.
On Thursday morning, the corner of Factory and King streets turned into a construction zone.
But this is far from average road work.
Experts in toxic waste removal were flown in from the mainland to extract soil laced with dangerous levels of lead from just beneath the road’s surface.
It’s believed the waste was left behind by an old fishing lure factory from the 1960s.
The EPA says it’s closely monitoring the air quality during construction.
“We’re using water to suppress the dust,” said spokeswoman Amanda Pease.
“And then we’re using both air monitors and air samplers in the work zone and around the outside to verify that there’s nothing to impact the community.”
Close to 2,000 people live within a tenth of a mile of this site.
In recent years, the health of residents in the area became a major concern as the crumbling road began exposing some of the contaminated soil.
EPA officials say project waste is being carefully packaged and shipped to two licensed facilities on the mainland.
“In addition to that, we’re opening up small sections of the street each day so that we’re backfilling on the same day. So we’re not leaving open any areas of contaminated soil,” said Pease.
Most residents say they’re happy the problem’s finally getting fixed.
But business owners hope crews can complete clean-up quickly, saying the construction is bad for business.
“Lunchtime most busy,” said Island Style BBQ owner Jenny Ai. “Not today. You see because it’s affecting all the parking.”
The EPA estimates it’s going to take between five and seven weeks to finish the project.