15 tons of seized
fireworks create a
3 fireworks outlets
closed for violations
Forecast: Smoke likely to lingerBy Jaymes K. Song
The Honolulu Police Department's crackdown on illegally sold fireworks has been so successful, it has created a new problem -- what to do with the estimated 15 tons of fireworks seized since last Wednesday.
"It's always been a major problem through the years, and we confiscated more this year than the past five to 10 years combined," said Assistant Chief Boisse Correa.
The department is working with several groups on the disposal of the fireworks, but nothing has been decided, Correa said.
Police have already been turned down by at least one Oahu landfill.
"They inquired if it was OK to bring it here," said Joe Hernandez, environmental manager of the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Nanakuli.
"I said no, it's not. Unfortunately, under (Environmental Protection Agency) regulations, it's considered a hazardous waste -- it's considered an explosive."
Hernandez said he was told that the first shipment would be 12 tons, followed by several shipments of one to two tons each.
The only way for the fireworks to be legally dumped in the landfill would be for the police department to prove they were non-hazardous, possibly by treating or somehow neutralizing them, Hernandez said.
Meanwhile, police have tons of the seized fireworks stored at the police academy campus in Waipahu, being guarded by officers and private security personnel.
"It's in the middle of nowhere, away from everything," Correa said.
The majority of the fireworks came from Tuesday's bust at a warehouse near Sand Island Access Road, in which 12 to 14 tons of illegal and legal fireworks were seized.
That is in addition to 2,000 pounds of fireworks seized from a Mililani home last week and 500 pounds from a Waipio Gentry residence Monday.
"There's more people selling illegally this year compared to years past," Correa said. "They're selling so openly, and we're catching them."
Police credit tips from the public for the recent busts.
"We have always been advocates for a total ban," Correa said. "Without a total ban, we're always going to have these problems."
And if anyone has an idea on what to do with the fireworks, let the department know, he said.
The fire department has revoked licenses to sell fireworks at three retail outlets where police bought illegal aerial fireworks.
3 fireworks outlets
closed for violations
Licenses were taken yesterday from Hawaiian Wholesale Fireworks outlets at Stadium Mall at 4510 Salt Lake Boulevard, Kingsgate Plaza at 555 N. King St. and Windward City Shopping Center at 45-480 Kaneohe Bay Drive.
The illegal aerial fireworks were purchased Tuesday during a police sting operation. The state attorney general's office said licenses could be revoked based on illegal sales, according to Fire Chief Attilio Leonardi.
Hawaiian Wholesale Fireworks still has 21 retail outlets operating, said Fire Capt. Richard Soo.
smoke likely to linger
Light variable winds may re-createBy Leila Fujimori
last New Year's hazy conditions
If the weather forecast for tomorrow holds, it will be hard to see through the fireworks smoke when the clock strikes midnight.
"A lack of winds is going to be the problem," said meteorologist Tim Craig of the National Weather Service last night.
The forecast for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is for light variable winds, 5 to 15 mph, which will cause smoke to hang over Oahu much like last year, Craig said. It should be partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon showers.
"For clean skies, what you want is some 15- to 20-mph winds to remove the smoke," Craig said.
Pouring rain would have been the perfect weather for Hawaii's chronic lung disease sufferers, said Allison Beale, director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association.
"If it's nice and sunny and clear, it's going to be bad."
Beale had hoped for strong tradewinds to blow fireworks smoke away. Kona or southern winds, on the other hand, would carry vog to Oahu, she said.
But winds are a double-edged sword for the fire department. "They could start a brush fire ... in areas where residential homes meet with brush areas," said Fire Capt. Richard Soo. He said the light winds and the possibility of rain have the potential for aiding the fire department.