EPA teams begin hazardous waste removal in Kula

Aug. 24—Related Photo Gallery: EPA teams begin hazardous waste removal in Kula

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today began removing and disposing hazardous waste from properties affected by wildfires in Kula.

The EPA will survey, remove, and dispose of hazardous waste materials including paints, cleaners, solvents, oils, batteries, and pesticides, according to a Maui County press release. Workers will also remove fuel from pressurized cylinders and tanks, and remove items thought to contain asbestos if they are easy to identify.

But the empty containers left behind will be marked for removal during a second phase of the removal process. Also, properties will not be fully cleared of asbestos until the second phase, officials said.

"Following a fire, these hazardous materials require special handling and disposal, especially if their containers are damaged," said the release. "These efforts will reduce potential threats to public health and safety and allow other agencies to remove solid waste, debris, and ash in the affected areas."

EPA workers will only be removing household hazardous waste, the county emphasized. If the EPA comes upon suspected remains or functional firearms, workers will immediately stop and contact the Maui Police Department.

While conducting removal work, the EPA will monitor the air for particulate matter, and sample the air for heavy metals and asbestos.

After the first phase of work is complete, EPA will apply a soil tackifier called Soiltac to debris and ash remaining on property to prevent it from blowing away. The Soiltac is dyed pink so it will be visible, and is non-toxic and biodegradable, officials said.

The EPA will begin hazardous waste removal in Lahaina after search and rescue teams have completed their work, and allow the agency to enter the disaster area.

EPA's work is authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.