Boat operators say the Kakaako building boom is fueling rust problems

Boat operators say the Kakaako building boom is fueling rust problems
Boat operators at Kewalo Basin Harbor say that "fugitive dust" from the Kakaako construction boom is causing rust-damage on their boats. (Source: None)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Boat operators at Kewalo Basin Harbor said the Kakaako construction boom is beginning to damage their boats.

About half a dozen boat operators met with Hawaii News Now on Saturday to demonstrate the rust damage on their vessels. They said airborne particles -- or fugitive dust -- from a nearby construction site have landed on their boats in recent weeks, peppering their boats with grains of rust.

“There’s probably 150 vessels in this harbor and I suspect that everyone of them has some degree of damage,” said Ken Middleton, who heads Tradewind Vacations Hawaii, which operates three charters.

“They’re cutting, they’re welding, they’re grinding big steel beams and those particulates are blowing and are showering not only this harbor area but Kakaako itself.”

Landowner Howard Hughes Corp. said its contractors have taken great steps to keep dust and other particles from escaping by using debris netting and plastic coverings on rails.

“We are rigorously investigating the claim to ensure the site is in full compliance,” added Race Randle, senior vice president of development at Howard Hughes.

“If, however, it is determined that airborne particles from the construction site have caused damage, we will move swiftly to mitigate and correct the situation,”

Boat operators said the construction firms aren’t doing enough to prevent the dust from escaping. They want the developers to take more protective actions and to pay for some of the damage.

They said it costs between $25,000 and $40,000 to repaint an entire boat.

Richie Maddaloni, co-owner of Royal Hawaiian Catamaran, said the rust is not only a problem on metallic surfaces but it’s also attacking sails and even plastic objects. He said his boat was only repainted last year.

“It’s like someone taking rust sand and throwing it along the boat everyday. It’s really disheartening,” he said.

Krystine Samson of the Na Hoku 2 and Manu Kai Catamarans said a company van parked downwind of the construction site has to be wiped down every day.

She said her company’s boats were repainted several weeks ago but are now showing rust damage.

“We run boats that are fiberglass, they should never have rust on them,” she said.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.