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KITV – In fire-damaged Lahaina, residents worry about EPA-approved adhesive used to harden ash in clean up (TPD2310028)

In fire-damaged Lahaina, residents worry about EPA-approved adhesive used to harden ash in clean up

 By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow    Oct 5, 2023 Updated Oct 6, 2023



As KITV-4’s ‘A’ali’i Dukelow reports – county council members say they’re trying to do a better job informing the public about the process.

MAUI COUNTY, Hawaii (Island News) — Many Lahaina residents feel left in the dark when it comes to clearing out debris and toxic waste from their fire-damaged town.

But Maui County Council members vowed they’ll try to better inform the public about the process.

During their meeting Thursday, council members proposed having the administration reach out to every property owner and insurance adjustor to explain what they’re expected of during this debris removal process.

It’s a race against time for Maui County officials and recovery teams to manage the toxic ash before heavy winter rains wash it all to the ocean, threatening marine life and natural resources.

Maui Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang and his team have been distributing PPE at the county building and out in the field to shield residents from the contaminants.

“They [the residents] seem to be pretty good, and they seem to be responsive. If you make too much dust we kind of scold them and they comply,” Pang said. “If they have too much heat injury, we help them with that, if they have mental health issues, we help them with that.”

While residents generally appear informed about the need to protect themselves from the hazardous ash, many question the safety of Soiltac®,the powdered adhesive the Environmental Protection Agency mists over the scorched ground after it removes hazardous household waste – allowing for crews to extract larger debris.

The agency and Soilworks, the dust control company that sells the product, assures the public the powder is biodegradable and safe. The company argued misinformation circulating on social media may have worried community members.

Pang emphasized the need to harden the earth to minimize ash spreading in the air, which residents in the Kelawea subdivision have been complaining about.

“I was with the firemen and I thought there was a small drizzle and they said ‘no, that’s ash,’” Pang recalled.

Council members are scheduled to meet again on Friday.

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