Wednesday, January 27, 1999

Pesticide spill did
not affect Waipahu’s
Village Park

By Lori Tighe


Village Park's residents weren't affected by the nearby contaminated Kunia Well, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's recent Superfund findings.

Residents have questioned why so many children from the Waipahu subdivision have been born with birth defects and learning disabilities.

In 1977, the Del Monte Oahu Plantation accidently spilled 495 gallons of pesticides into the Kunia Well. The EPA targeted the Kunia Village area in 1994 as a Superfund site, an area polluted with toxic waste and designated for cleanup.

Art The EPA investigation found that the drinking water wells serving Waipahu's Village Park, a subdivision outside the Superfund site, are in a different aquifer than the Kunia Well.

"This means that the drinking water wells that serve Village Park cannot be contaminated by any chemicals found in groundwater at Kunia Village," the report said.

Results of the investigation will be discussed at a public meeting at 7 tonight at Wahiawa Intermediate School Library.

Three children in Village Park had open heart surgery by the age of 5, according to Henry Curtis, executive director of the environmental group Life of the Land.

Village Park also experienced high rates of birth defects and learning disabilities, Curtis said.

Based on EPA results, the only current potential for human exposure to toxic waste in Kunia is through gases from the exposed ground water within the Kunia pond excavated in 1981 and 1983.

"There is potential for future exposure if water supply wells were drilled within the contaminated area of the basal aquifer," the report said.

Basal, or deep, ground water is used for drinking and irrigation.

The soil and water tests at Kunia began March 3, 1998, to determine human and environmental risk, said Janet Rosati, EPA cleanup investigation manager in San Francisco. Rosati will present the findings at tonight's meeting.

"We will cover the types of chemicals found, the extent of the contamination and where they were found," said Bryce Hataoka, state Department of Health's Office of Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response. "The next step will be to look at the type of remedial (cleanup) measures available, to recommend one and to institute it."

Although it's been 22 years since the original pesticide accident, Kunia Well was investigated in the late 1980s to 1990s and "the process takes a long time," Hataoka said.

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