EXCLUSIVE: Kapolei canal running from beach to recycling facility heavily contaminated

EXCLUSIVE: Kapolei canal contamination
Published: Jul. 15, 2015 at 2:54 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 15, 2015 at 10:06 AM HST
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KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Environmentalists are calling it one of the worst cases of stream pollution they've seen in years.

A new report says that a 1,000-foot long drainage canal that runs from Barbers Point Beach Park to Island Recycling's Kapolei facility is heavily contaminated with lead, arsenic and petroleum products.

"This is a more of an egregious, more toxic thing where someone or a business that's been creating some nasty byproducts is letting it go into the water," said Marvin Heskett, a water quality expert with the Surfrider Foundation. "A lot of those are toxic to the coral and will kill it."

The report points the finger at Island Recycling Inc., whose Kapolei facility borders the canal.

The study, which was conducted on behalf of Island Recycling's competitor Schnitzer Steel, found high levels of lead in nearly all of the 59 sites and extremely high doses of mercury at several locations.

"If you're looking at lead and mercury, they are really toxic things, especially for developing children," said Heskett. Visitors at Barbers Point Beach Park said they would think twice about getting into the water.

"We probably wouldn't have come if we knew" (of the contamination), said Maily Schara of Kapolei. "But this is a calmer place (than other beaches) and it's close to home."

Environmental activist Carroll Cox faults the state Health Department for not putting up any warning signs.

"The state of Hawaii should put up some notice even for the fisherman because these are heavy metals," said Cox.

Meanwhile, Island Recycling said the report is biased and that the company's own experts have found no contamination.

"We feel very strongly that we don't have any environmental problems," said company president James Nutter.

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