WAIANAE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's the second largest solar farm planned on Oahu and a major contributor to the state's clean energy goals. But neighbors say the Waianae Solar photovoltaic facility is one of the dirtiest they've seen. They said that dust generated from the construction site has inundated their homes, entering through their windows and air ducts and coating their floors and furniture.
"We have to clean our sheets constantly. It's really gross. We're constantly wiping down the living room, the windows, the screens ... caked. We have to shoot the dust down (off exterior walls with a hose) all the time," said Waianae resident Dynasty Tupulua,
At nearly 200 acres, Waianae Solar will generate enough electricity for thousands of homes when its completed at the end of the year. It's being developed by Eurus Energy America, whose partners include Japan's Toyota Tsusho Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Co.
The project also lies next to the Kamaile Academy, a Hawaiian focused public charter school that serves about 1,000 students. Tuesday is the first day of class.
Anna Winslow, the school's principal, said she asked the Department of Education to install dust filters on the windows and to acquire a water misting system. But those purchases are still in the procurement process, she said.
"We want to make sure our kids are safe. I'm concerned with kids with breathing problems like asthma," said Winslow.
DOE inspectors were on campus on Friday and are working with the developer to come up with a mitigation plan. But it's unclear if that plan will be fully implemented by Tuesday's start of school.
Environmental activist Carroll Cox said he and other residents and school staffers have filed complaints with the state Health Department over Eurus' dust mitigation plan. He said the company should pay for most of the community's clean up costs.
Cox said he was recently invited by Kamaile Academy's staff to document problem. There, he said he found furniture, books and even the floors coated with fine dust. He said custodians would clean up the dirt, only to find a new layer appear the next day.
"The problem is these are children from Kindergarten through 12th grade. They're going to be playing in it, crawling around the floor in it, breathing it. And that is just not right," he said. "Putting this facility up is just wrong. And it's closeness to a residential neighborhood without a buffer or greenbelt is wrong."