Advertisement

Lawmakers appropriate $14M for state Lab plagued by leaky roof, mold problems

State lawmakers Tuesday appropriated $14 million for the state Department of Health’s laboratory in Pearl City, which critics say has fallen into disrepair.
Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:04 PM HST|Updated: May. 3, 2022 at 6:23 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - State lawmakers Tuesday appropriated $14 million for the state Department of Health’s laboratory in Pearl City, which critics say has fallen into disrepair.

The lab has played a critical role in testing and analyzing contamination during crises like the Kaloko Dam breach in 2006 and the Ala Wai sewage spill that same year.

But in recent years, the lab has been plagued in recent years by a leaky roof and mold problems.

“The roof leaks badly and on days of really heavy rain, it just pours on through holes,” said a state lab worker, who didn’t want his name to be used for fear of retribution. “There are people I work with who have consistently ... complained about health problems because of the mold.”

He said roof leaks have forced staff to place plastic coverings over sensitive equipment like gas chromatographs.

The state Health Department said no lab operations have been compromised by the damage.

It plans to replace the lab’s roof next year and that mold remediation and other interim fixes were completed last year.

But critics said that even with the $14 million in funding, they doubt the state is committed to operating a state-of-the-art lab.

“I trust nothing unless they revamp, renew the staff, remove the head and get someone that’s committed to doing what’s right,” said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

During the past year, Cox said the state and federal authorities have poured hundreds of millions of dollars in the the Health Department yet the lab was still neglected.

He blames lab director Edward Desmond who he said was also responsible for allowing more $22 million worth of COVID tests to expire.

The state declined to comment on Desmond’s job performance.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.