Campbell Estate on the hook to clean up site it used to own


POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Representatives of the Estate of James Campbell are frustrated that they are being held responsible for cleaning up a site the estate no longer owns.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an order to the Estate of James Campbell and Sogo Hawaii Inc. to clean up a defunct wood-treatment site at Campbell Industrial Park.

On Oct. 10, vandals broke into the former Chem-Wood property located at 91-476 Komohana St. to remove metal from tanks and containers to supposedly sell for recycling. At that time, approximately 300 pounds of copper chromated arsenic was spilled from the tank.

The Department of Health's Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office responded and contained the spill.

Under the order, officials say the property owners need to remove all hazardous materials and increase security to prevent further break-ins. They are also required to inspect the site for any necessary repairs to groundwater monitoring wells.

Chem-Wood was in operation between 1973 to 1988 and used copper chromatic and pentachlorophenol to treat wood. Numerous inspections resulted in a cleanup order of the site in September 1988. The company removed drums of hazardous waste, conducted solid and groundwater investigations and installed an asphalt cap over contaminated soil at the Precision Wood site, an area adjacent to the October spill site. But in 1997, the cleanup was put to a halt after Chem-Wood went out of business and filed for bankruptcy.

The site remains vacant except for some tanks, piping and debris that were left on the property. According to EPA spokesman Dean Higuchi, there are prospective buyers for the property.

Sogo Hawaii currently owns Chem-Wood. But Sogo Hawaii is no longer in business, said Higuchi. The company's representatives could not be reached for comment.

The Campbell Estate sold the property to Chem-Wood in 1989.

“;We intend to fully cooperate with the EPA and continue working with them as we have in the past,”; said Clint Churchill, chairman of the estate's board of trustees. “;The public's safety and health is paramount and important to us as well.

“;We are interested in safety. On the other hand, it's frustrating to be held responsible for contamination that was done by the lessee, Chem-Wood, 19 years later,”; said Churchill.