Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Brewer president vows
to address residents’
acid-spill concerns

By Lori Tighe


Brewer Environmental Industries President Stephen Knox says "it's been rough" since the Thanksgiving Day acid spill.

The angry and frightened Kapolei residents around Campbell Industrial Park, where the accident took place, "have a right to be concerned," Knox said. "We will address their concerns."

Knox yesterday approved a full-scale internal investigation to find out how the 35-ton sulfuric acid leak occurred and to prevent spills in the future. A company task force, already formed, will carry out the new prevention plan.

"We have to do what's right. We'll go beyond what the law requires us to do," Knox said.

He agreed to meet with area residents possibly as soon as this week to address their concerns.

Brewer began generating a written report on all the known facts relating to the accident, which it will release to the state, said Helen Mary Wessell, the Campbell Industrial compliance coordinator who works as a liaison between the park, the community and the state.


The Campbell Industrial hot line for information about chemical accidents and to report them: 674-3388.

"As far as how the spill was handled, it was fine. How Brewer handled it, I don't believe was real fine," Wessell said.

The state criticized the company for its delay in discovering the leak, and for doing nothing to the spill other than letting it evaporate. The state took over the cleanup Friday.

Yet more sulfuric acid turned up yesterday in nearby gravel trenches around the originally contained spill, said Gary Gill, state deputy director for environmental health.

"The spill sunk into the gravel about a foot deep. There's no way of judging how much," he said. "It means there's additional work to be done."

"The spill has stopped," Gill stressed. The additional acid found yesterday had escaped notice of cleanup crews because the gravel looked dry on the surface.

The cleanup has cost about $25,000 so far. "We're nowhere near finished," Gill said.

Workers from a private company, Pacific Environmental Corp., continue to neutralize the acid. Then, absorbent material will be placed on it and workers will shovel it up into containers.

Brewer is a member of CLEAN, Campbell Local Emergency Action Network, which produced an emergency management manual this spring, said Dave Hoffman, manager of environmental affairs for Tesoro and head of CLEAN.

CLEAN, made up of Campbell Industrial companies, intended the manual as a community management tool. It contains a lengthy list of company, emergency and state contact numbers and a generic emergency plan outline, Hoffman said.

All 250 Campbell Industrial companies were sent the manual, he said. But it is up to the individual company to set its own emergency plan.

"You have to look at the individual company for their own response plan," he said. "I can't comment on Brewer."

The Campbell Industrial hot line set up through CLEAN worked well, Hoffman said, for delivering information to the community.

"We hope to learn from these sets of circumstances to make things better," he said.

CLEAN had bought 400 emergency alert radios and distributed them to community centers and schools for public notification, "if the circumstances got larger than it did," Hoffman said.

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