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EPA crews spray Soiltac, a soil-stabilizing product, on a burned property in Lahaina to prevent toxic ash and dust from getting into the environment. Photo courtesy EPA
The Maui News
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has started to apply a soil-stabilizing product on ash and debris left behind by burned buildings and vehicles with damaged lead-acid batteries in Lahaina.
EPA crews began applying Soiltac® Thursday on a half-acre residential property in Lahaina in Zone 6C, the Kahoma Village area, with the purpose of fine-tuning operations and ensuring crews understand the application process, the EPA said in a news release.
Based on the initial trial in Lahaina and adjustments to the process, crews began applying Soiltac in Zones 9H, 9I, 9J and 9M Friday and continued Saturday. The zones, which are located makai of the bypass and Lahaina’s three remaining public schools, were chosen to minimize the potential exposure to ash and debris by students when the schools reopened on Monday, the EPA said.
Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen approved the use of the Soiltac in Lahaina last week. The county said that the nontoxic liquid will help prevent ash and dust, as well as microplastics, from getting into the air, the ocean, nearby streams or surrounding properties.
A map shows zones where the EPA has initially applied a soil-stabilizing product in Lahaina. Graphic courtesy EPA
While some residents raised concerns in a Maui County Council committee meeting earlier this month, wondering about the product’s components, some also acknowledged that impacts from the ash could be a bigger concern. The EPA has said that Soiltac is nontoxic but is not biodegradable, though any concerns “will be vastly outweighed by the benefits or preventing dust and ash from dispersing in the environment.” The product, which forms a crust on the dust and ash, will be removed during the debris removal process.
The EPA also applied the product to burned properties in Kula.
The soil stabilizer will not be applied to any known, identified or flagged cultural resources, standing walls (including those of historic structures), dry-stack walls and areas known to contain collections of cultural artifacts or ancestral ashes, the EPA said.
The agency added that it is also aware of community concerns regarding feeding stations for cats in the impacted areas, and that crews will move the feeding stations before applying the soil stabilizer. The Maui Humane Society said last week that it is working with the EPA to protect the feeding stations.
The EPA requests that individuals wait 24 hours from the application of the soil stabilizer before entering the property. Although the manufacturer recommends a full 24-hour curing period, it is expected to harden in less time in this climate.
For more information on EPA’s efforts, visit www.epa.gov/maui-wildfires.