City considers relaxing fireworks storage law

The Honolulu City Council
The Honolulu City Council
Stanley Chang
Stanley Chang
Wil Espero
Wil Espero

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The Honolulu City Council is considering a bill to ease restrictions on where consumer fireworks can be stored despite the recent accident at a Waikele storage bunker in which five men were killed when a stash of fireworks exploded.

When the City and County of Honolulu outlawed most fireworks on Oahu effective January 1st, 2011, it also made it illegal to store fireworks on Oahu.

American Promotional Events, Inc., which does business under the name TNT Fireworks, has a warehouse near Honolulu International Airport where it stores fireworks before they are shipped for sale on neighbor islands where fireworks are still legal.

TNT has filed an injunction challenging Honolulu's "no storage" law, and now the city council is considering a bill to rescind its "no-storage" provision.

"The bill specifically permits the warehousing of fireworks legal on the neighbor islands here in Honolulu," said City Councilman Stanley Chang who introduced the bill.

"I can't comment on the lawsuit, but in discussion today it was mentioned that passage of this bill might forestall the need for litigation and if that is true, I think that argument will be made," Chang added.

The bill passed first reading before the full council Wednesday. It will now go to a committee for consideration and would need to pass two more readings before the full city council before going to the mayor for his signature.

"Storing fireworks is a very dangerous situation," said State Senator Will Espero, who co-chaired a now disbanded task force on illegal fireworks.

The task force that took a broad look at illegal fireworks including the storage and disposal of seized fireworks. Espero told Hawaii News Now the legislature may implement new laws aimed at preventing what happened at Waikele from happening again, but changes will not be made until the investigation into the Waikele tragedy is finished.

"Whatever they (investigators) find and can share with us publicly is something we will scrutinize and look at especially when we're looking at how we can make Hawaii safer," Espero said.

The investigation will be a lengthy process. No timetable firm has been set.

Whatever the experts conclude, Espero believes everyone who buys and sells fireworks on the black market is somewhat responsible.

"If there were no illegal fireworks in Hawaii, or no confiscated fireworks, then this accident would not have happened," Espero said.

It should be noted this story deals with two different kinds of fireworks storage; the storage of illegal fireworks that have been seized by law enforcement and the warehousing of consumer fireworks.

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