EPA completes work on 197 parcels to remove hazardous materials

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The US Environmental Protection Agency has completed work on 197 parcels as part of Phase 1, to remove hazardous material, including large pieces of asbestos, from the 5-square-mile burned area from the Lahaina fire.

The EPA has been working since Aug. 29 to survey, remove, and dispose of hazardous material from properties affected by the wildfires in Lahaina. Work to clear 19 properties of hazardous waste was conducted in Kula, and Olinda two weeks ago.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency crews are working to remove hazardous material from the Lahaina fire burned area. PC: Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources (8.31.23)

The US Environmental Protection Agency was assigned to conduct the work by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


Hazardous materials could include compressed gas cylinders, pesticides, fertilizers and ammunition, as well as lithium-ion batteries, and in particular solar battery storage on homes.

At this time, there is no list allowing residents to return to the disaster area in Lahaina. There will be a coordinated effort to develop a plan for the safe return of residents. Currently, the disaster area is restricted to authorized personnel only.

Dangers include ash that may contain toxic, cancer-causing chemicals with debris including broken glass, exposed electrical wire, and other objects. Unstable structures may contain hazardous materials and could collapse, causing injury. 


According to Maui Police Chief, John Pelletier, it is the County of Maui that is putting together the reentry plan. As the lead for public safety and law enforcement, the department may help with the perimeter and security component. Maui Deputy Managing Director, Josiah Nishita, is reportedly the lead for the county on this project, as it establishes zones and mapping for reentry.

For those who can return to their properties, county officials urge all individuals to utilize Personal Protective Equipment.  More recommendations regarding PPE are available HERE.

For updated information regarding Lahaina Harbor access, future salvage operations and available resources, go to the US Coast Guard Homeport, Sector Honolulu website. The latest update from Aug. 28, 2023 is posted HERE.


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