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EPA crews upend an electric vehicle to remove the battery pack. Any remaining energy will be discharged before preparation for shipping. Photo courtesy EPA
The Maui News
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that it has removed hazardous materials from more than 75 percent of the burned properties in Lahaina, nearly completing the first phase of the federal cleanup efforts after the August wildfires on Maui.
EPA crews have expanded their operational focus to include ash stabilization efforts in Lahaina and the deconstruction of electric and hybrid vehicle batteries, according to an EPA news release.
On Friday, the EPA began applying Soiltac®, a soil-stabilizing product, to burned Lahaina properties and vehicles to keep ash and dust from going airborne and getting into surrounding properties or waterways.
The EPA is also working with Maui County to identify, recover, transport and dispose of lithium-ion batteries from electric and hybrid vehicles. The agency cautioned that owners of electric and hybrid vehicles should not attempt to start, work on or sit in their vehicles that are still in the disaster area, as their fire-damaged batteries need to be handled with specific care.
Cultural monitors continue to assist EPA personnel on-site during household hazardous material and soil stabilization efforts.
Once the EPA’s efforts in Phase 1 are finished, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will oversee Phase 2, the removal of all debris from the affected properties.