HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Health is issuing a $1.1 million fine against the Department of Education and several companies over the alleged dumping of toxic soil from Radford High School.
The Health Department alleges the DOE, its contractor and six trucking companies transported more than 2,000 tons of contaminated soil next to D.R. Horton's Mehanna project near the Kapolei Courthouse last year.
The soil has been removed and has been placed in a landfill. But at the time the dirt was placed there, the developer and nearby residents were not aware that the soil contained toxic materials,the Health Department said.
"I believe the culprit is the DOE and the responsibility should fall squarely in their lap," said environmental activist Carroll Cox. "The DOE knew it was contaminated."
The soil is contaminated because the U.S. Navy operated a landfill on the Radford property before the school was built. According to the DOH, the soil contained unsafe levels of lead, mercury and asbestos.
The DOE said it plans to contest the fine.
"We are surprised by the Department of Health's decision. We dispute the findings and we have requested a hearing," said Dann Carlson, the DOE's Assistant Superintendent of the Office of School Facilities and Support Services.
Carl Osaki, an attorney for DOE contractor MEI Corp., said his client also will contest the fine. He said that after the DOE was notified of potential contamination, it told MEI and its trucking companies to continue to haul away the dirt.
"We weren't told to stop, in fact (we were told) that if we stopped, it would be held against us," said Osaki.
D.R. Horton said the Navy and the state says that no further remedial actions are required.