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Refrigerant Leak Prompts HazMat Response at Island Grocery Depot in Kahului

Posted November 27, 2016, 09:58 PM HST Updated November 28, 2016, 02:31 PM HST
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Kahului firefighters responded to a hazardous materials leak at Island Grocery Depot on Amala Place in Kahului at 9:40 p.m. Saturday Nov. 26, 2016.

Firefighters initially were called out to a fire alarm activation, but after meeting with a representative from the business, crews learned that an employee discovered some sort of foggy cloud or smoke within the building. The business was closed at the time and no one was inside the building.

A hazardous materials team was brought in to investigate. Using protective gear and Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses or SCBA, three firefighters entered the building and located a gas leak coming from the refrigeration equipment over the chiller boxes. Hazmat technicians were able to stop the leak with the guidance of a service technician who was outside watching their movements through a camera monitor.

The leaking product was identified as Freon 44A, a type of refrigerant. Maui Fire Services Chief Edward Taomoto said the gas cloud formed by the leaking product caused the fire alarm system to activate.

After firefighters closed off valves and capped the leak, the building’s doors were opened and crews used large fans to ventilate the building for about an hour until it was safe to enter without special protective gear.

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A service technician made temporary repairs so the chiller units could still be used until more permanent repairs could be done later.

Store executives say the leak is under control and is in the process of being permanently repaired. According to store representatives, the building is fully operational and safe.

A battalion chief, fire engine and a hazardous materials crew from Kahului responded to the incident.

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