Friday, December 24, 2010

 

Hawaii DOH knew about Chromium 6


By Henry Curtis

The chromium issue is something that has stuck within me for over a decade, an issue that got away from me, in the beginning of my understanding of toxicity.

In the 1990s there was a major health cluster in Village Park (Waipahu). Kids were born healthy but when they reached first grade it was obvious that something was wrong. Three kids on the same block had had open heart surgery by age  and there was a significant level of childhood health problems.

The late Clifford Jamille (Chief of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply) came willingly to the community, and met with parents at their homes. He state that the water supply was secured because it was treated. However, he was willing to provide before and after toxic data, and to put the information in the bills of the Village Park community.

Instead of conducting tests, initially Hawai`i Department of Health (DOH) reacted by doing a meaningless birth study that found nothing. The community knew this would be the case -- since the kids were born healthy.

A community group and Life of the Land secured $225K from the State Legislature for soil testing. Kudos to the Legislators who cared, people like Representatives Ken Ito, Tom Okamura, and Dwight Takamine, now a member of the Governor Abercrombie Cabinet; and Senator Carol Fukunaga.

The search for the culprit was sort of like the game battleship. It was unknown whether the contamination was in the air, land or surface water. If it was land based it could be anywhere and at any soil depth. A random soil sample testing was conducted at several dozen sites. The soil analysis found high levels of arsenic, chromium and dioxin.

Prior to testing, the DOH stated that if there were high hits of chromium they would do further tests to distinguish between chromium 3 and chromium 6, one being relatively safe, the other relatively dangerous.

After finding chromium, DOH stated that we were mistaken. They would assume, in the absence of proof, that all the chromium was good chromium. That was a heck of an assumption.

They only looked for dioxin in 6 sites and all were hot, some super hot. This issue was not pursued.

The Department of Defense and Congress  established Technical Review Committees (TRCs), and later, much more formal Restoration Advisory Boards (RABs), to monitor the military's clean-up of hazardous waste on their bases. These entities serve as an interface between the military and the public, and members can advise the military on cleanup priorities.

After being involved with the Village Park cluster issue,  I served on the Scholfield Barracks TRC,  the Pearl Harbor RAB, the Air Force Central O`ahu RAB (which included Mt Ka`ala, Kahuku, Kaua`i and Wake Island), and was the Hickam AFB RAB co-chair (1996-2005).

This gave me an understanding of toxic issues, which I figured would help one day when the issue of civilian soil and water toxicity came face-to-face with reluctant Hawai`i state and county governments.

The chromium is probable from CCA (chromium copper arsenic) which was used to treat wood to prevent termite infestation. This wood was used to build houses in Village Park.

The company that treated the wood was based in Campbell Industrial Park, and every time time it rains, the area turns blue.

Perhaps today is the day of reckoning.

It could not have come soon enough.

Henry Curtis
ililani.media@gmail.com

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Comments:

Interesting. Especially since the BOW is calling the test "irresponsible" (because it relied on just one sample). Please stay on top of this.
 


What areas can be affected by this? Is it in the Waipio drinking waters?
 


Same thing with Hawai'i Island, highest cancer rate in the state, in 10 out of 18 categories - and no one knows why or wants to talk about it. As for the depleted uranium testing by the Army, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says they're doing the testing wrong. My scientist friend says they are trying to catch BB's with a tennis racket. The filters to catch the radiation are too big, so it passes through without registering; don't look, don't find. Politicians have been useless to defend us for nearly 10 years on this issue. So sad. I would hope Neil's "new day" would get us some real testing for DU but he becomes deaf when you politely try to discuss military contamination; he just doesn't want to hear about it.
 


I didn't hear that BOWS called the test "irresponsible," but that doesn't sound too far off the mark. One positive test performed by an amateur volunteer certainly doesn't constitute newsworthiness. Of course, I would be interested to hear about results of more comprehensive testing when that happens.
 


I did fax Gary Gill over at DOH on the chromium, but since he was just appointed it's likely he hasn't even unpacked his desk stuff yet.

Let's see what can be accomplished after the holidays with all these unwanted minerals.
 


I don't understand. Since when did it become DOH's job to protect public health? Its job is to assure the public that there's no threat to public health from the actions of businesses or the military. Look it up. And they do it pretty well, really.
 


Thanks for all this and staying on top of it. It is greatly appreciated, Henry and Larry.
We have yet to see the militaryʻs part in this which, in all common sense, will be significant.
And you are right: Abercrombie DOES NOT want to hear anything negative about the military and certainly will try to continue keeping this thing buried.
He is not an honorable person and I say that with respect to some other things.
Anonymous Anonymous : 10:35 PM HST, you are lucky he didnʻt introduce his foaming at the mouth temper to you like he did to me when I asked him why he pursues the Akaka bill when the Hawaiians havenʻt weighed in on it and donʻt want it anyway.
 


Statehood was a mistake.
 


Paul : 9:01 AM HST

I believe your post/statement is one big contradiction.
Maybe you were being sarcastic, if so I missed it.
 


Paul, if the DOH did know, it would not be the first time that they failed to take action on a public health issue. Right outside my window is Kauluwela Elementary School, for example, where DOH did not take action when asbestos (from car brakes blowing in from the adjacent highway) was discovered in the school cafeteria. That's just the first thing that entered my mind.
 

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