Moiliili residents complain about University Square demolition

EXCLUSIVE: Moiliili residents complain about University Square demolition
Published: Dec. 20, 2016 at 12:35 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2016 at 1:36 PM HST
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MOILIILI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the past several weeks, residents in Moiliili have complained about the dust from the demolition of the University Square building on King Street.

Developers are razing the 59-year-old complex to make way for a 14-story, student housing project. But Laurie Hirohata, who has lived in the crowded neighborhood for two decades, said developers are cutting corners when it comes protecting residents from dust and toxic materials.

"There's not enough barriers and protections from all of the dust and everything else flying off. So they should have had better barriers," she said. "I have allergies and asthma and every time I walk up this road my asthma kicks up."

Customers of the nearby Kokua Market natural foods store also complain about the dust.

"I don't know if that place has asbestos and you know all of the concrete particles and you know I don't what to be exposed to that very long," said Guady Bogle of Wilhelmina Rise.

The complaints prompted an investigator with the state Health Department's hazardous waste branch to visit the site today. He had no comment.

Because University Square was built in 1957, it did contain asbestos and there are other potential toxics.

"There are still present in the walls air conditioners. Air conditioners contain refrigerant gasses that are harmful to the environment," said environmental activist Carroll Cox. "It seemed to have been done at a hurried pace of trying to avoid taking care of all of the threats."

But the developers say they taken all the precautions to control the dust and monitor the air quality. They said environmental consultants also removed the asbestos and placed it in plastic bags before demolition began. They added that the air conditioners were all drained prior to starting the job.

Demolition will continue for the next two weeks. The project will likely be completed in March 2018.

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