West Oahu fireworks proposal fizzles under pressure from neighbors

West Oahu fireworks proposal fizzles under pressure from neighbors
Deputy Health Director addressing residents
Deputy Health Director addressing residents
proposed site
proposed site

NANAKULI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Not in our neighborhood.

That's the message in Nanakuli as families shot down a proposal to set off thousands of illegally shipped fireworks in a residential lot next to a large chicken farm.

After a heated neighborhood board meeting at Nanaikapono Elementary School, the State Department of Health will now ask the fireworks disposal contractor to find another location.

"It's no surprise, honestly, that you picked our side first and we're tired of it,” said board member Stacelynn Eli.

Eli, along with several other Waianae Coast residents are outraged that the state would even consider issuing a permit to dispose of 5,400 illegal fireworks in Nanakuli.

Gary Gill, the Deputy Health Director, says he hears them loud and clear and will now ask the applicant to reconsider and dispose at a different location.

The explosive devices were confiscated by the federal government during an illegal shipment to Honolulu and they were originally stored in a Waikele storage bunker.

In 2011, a tragic accident occurred when the fireworks started to explode and five people lost their lives.

Now a second set of fireworks, not affected by the tragedy, need to be disposed and Nanakuli residents are saying not in their backyard.

"I'm concerned about a lot of people, a lot of young people down there, a lot of farmers and they bringing this kind of stuff in Nanakuli? That's sad," said Fea Tuiloma, who owns a pig farm near the proposed site.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has contracted Fireworks by Grucci to dispose of them. They now need a permit by the Honolulu Fire Department and approval by the health department before they can proceed.

"In this case the contractor did something unusual that I've never seen before and was recommending that the fireworks be burnt out here. Typically there's three locations where we're used to seeing this stuff happen. One would be Schofield Barracks, one would be out at the range at Koko Head, and one might be at the fire facility down by the airport,” Gill said.

State Representative Karen Awana, opposes the proposal and wants to know why now.

“Why is it an emergency now since it's been waiting in that bunker area for so long?” she asked.

A representative from a contractor for the federal government attended Tuesday night's board meeting to tell concerned residents it only takes roughly take seven minutes to burn 900 of the explosives and this method of disposal is completely different.

"We have taken a level of extreme caution trying to ensure that we will dispose, discharge these fireworks in the safest most environmentally friendly manner possible," said Michael DeSousa, Risk Management Director, URS Corporation.

Assuming that the applicant proposes a different location, there will be another open comment period before any decision is made.

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