By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
A firefighter cleaned up a chemical spill on Bethel Street today.
Chemical spill snarls
early morning traffic
Eye irritations and a strong odor areBy Jaymes Song
reported; downtown streets are closed
Downtown traffic was snarled this morning after a chemical used to treat portable toilets spilled on Bethel Street.
Firefighters were called to the scene after pedestrians reported eye irritation and a strong odor at 6:10 a.m.
"It smelled like ammonia. It just hit you," said Mike Hooper, a supervisor for TheBus.
More than 10 gallons of the chemical, a blue oily substance used to neutralize human waste, spilled from Nimitz Highway to South King Street, said Capt. Alex Beck of the fire department's hazardous materials crew.
Parts of Bethel Street and Merchant Street were closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic this morning, and the entrances to several parking lots were closed.
The parking attendants at Harbor Court said they are usually swamped with customers between 6 and 8 a.m. because people are trying to take advantage of the early bird special.
At 7:15 a.m., they said they hadn't seen a car all morning because their entry was blocked.
Fire crews washed the roads down with water to neutralize the undiluted chemical, and police opened the roads at 7:35 a.m.
Henry Moisa, owner of A's Party Portable, said if the chemical was irritating to eyes, it probably contained formaldehyde.
Moisa said there are several types of neutralizers on the market, but he uses one that costs about $250 for seven gallons.
He said a portable toilet company can produce and use a formaldehyde-based mix for less than $70 for the same amount.
Beck said the spilled chemical was similar to the product that portable toilet company Chemi-toi uses. A spokesman for Kapolei-
based Chemi-toi would not comment on whether a company vehicle was traveling through the downtown area or whether it uses formaldehyde.