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Crews begin massive clean-up of burned out auto graveyard in Central Oahu

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Crews crushed and collected several junked cars at Poamoho on Monday to make way for the massive clean up of an estimated 1,000 burned out and derelict vehicles.

“This is a monumental task given all of the cars and how they are randomly placed and stacked on one another,” said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

A wildfire last month on the state-owned land exposed just how large illegal junkyard had become.

After Hawaii News Now aired video of the auto graveyard, local metal recycler Schnitzer Steel Hawaii agreed to haul away the vehicles at no cost to taxpayers ― in exchange for the scrap metal.

But even though the company will be using heavy equipment, the clean-up could take some time. Last year, when the state hired a tow company to remove about 150 cars, the job took about two weeks.

“I would imagine the company that is coming in will be a lot bigger because the problem is bigger. In the past year, it’s just gone rampant,” said Alex Kamanu of Highway Response, the tow company hired by the state to take away junked cars in 2020.

Hauling away cars is just part of the clean-up effort. The state also has to check the ground for potential contaminants.

Last month’s brush fire consumed car batteries, AC systems and electronics, which could contain toxic materials.

“I’m told they’re going to do grids and mark where they find contaminants in barrels and buckets or what have you,” said Cox.

The state said that after it prepares the site, contractors working for Schnitzer Steel will take the cars to Campbell Industrial Park where they will be shredded and recycled.

After the clean-up, the state said it has new farmers ready to take over and prevent a repeat of the illegal dumping.

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