HEER Office Partners with Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch to Oversee Honolulu Rail Transit Project

Like many urban areas across the country, soil and groundwater along the proposed rail line have residual contamination from historic petroleum pipelines and other industrial activities. State and federal law holds polluters, property owners and developers responsible for ensuring that contamination does not harm human health or the environment. If not managed safely, excavation of contaminated soils and redevelopment of contaminated properties can put construction workers, future property users and local communities at risk. The Honolulu Rail Transit Project is a complex project with numerous subcontractors performing multiple tasks simultaneously. Many of these tasks require the movement of large volumes of soil and/or groundwater, some of which will be generated within these areas of residual contamination.

Invasive Honolulu Rail Transit Project activities include, but are not limited to the following:
• Geotechnical boring,
• Potholing,
• Exploratory trenching for archaeological investigation,
• Grading,
• Sewer jacketing, and
• Utility and tree relocation

Additional invasive work will occur during the construction of:
• Method shafts and/or test shafts,
• Production shafts,
• Twenty one train stations,
• Four park and ride facilities,
• Four new transit centers, and
• One maintenance and storage facility

During regulatory oversight of a typical project, fewer concurrent activities take place within a property boundary, and the project generates much less soil and groundwater. In most circumstances, responsible parties investigate single parcels under state oversight to establish whether contamination is present, and take cleanup actions as needed. From the beginning, it was clear a different approach would be needed for the 20-mile long rail project, traveling atop historic fuel pipeline corridors, like Kamehameha and Nimitz Highways, and encompassing hundreds of different properties and involving multiple property owners. Regulatory oversight of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project has been ongoing since October 2011 and will continue throughout the life of the project. The HEER Office has been working with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) to help them identify properties with contamination or potential contamination within or near the 20-mile rail line and proactively manage all encountered and/or generated media. The Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch (SHWB) has worked closely with the HEER Office and HART to ensure soil and waste materials are managed safely and in accordance with the law. Both branches have encouraged HART to develop a Programmatic Environmental Hazard Evaluation (EHE) and Environmental Hazard Management Plan (EHMP), and to do pre-construction site characterizations at several key locations. Links to key Honolulu Rail Transit Project documents are embedded in the text below.

Programmatic EHE-EHMP

In order to streamline the construction and oversight process while ensuring protection of human health and the environment, the HEER Office and SHWB allowed HART to develop one overarching document that would identify known/potential areas of contamination, discuss hazards and exposure pathways of identified types of contamination, and outline protocols their contractors will follow to manage soil, groundwater, and other media during construction. The Programmatic EHE-EHMP is a tool that records joint decisions that have been made between HART and HDOH throughout the course of the project. The document ties policy-level decisions to instructions for implementation in the field. The Programmatic EHE-EHMP also documents release reporting procedures, in the event HART encounters existing contamination during invasive activities. Appendix D of the Programmatic EHE-EHMP contains forms HART developed to communicate with their contractors and document that the contractors are following the agreed-upon procedures to identify contamination and manage clean and contaminated media during construction.

HDOH and HART both agree that unexpected situations may arise during fieldwork. The Honolulu Rail Transit Project is particularly complex, engages several layers of contractors, will take place for several years, and involves a variety of field conditions. Therefore, the Programmatic EHE-EHMP was designed to be thorough and specific, but dynamic. The version of the Programmatic EHE-EHMP linked on this page took several years to develop and is the most current version approved by both HART and HDOH. It was signed by HART Executive Director and CEO, Daniel Grabauskas, on December 19, 2014 and Hawaii Department of Health, (Former) Deputy Director, Gary Gill, on January 9, 2015.

Additional Honolulu Rail Transit Project Documents

The Programmatic EHE-EHMP is robust enough to be protective of human health and the environment when HART contractors work in most of the areas of known or potential contamination along the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. This map depicts sites identified by HART through public records searches and communication with the HEER Office and SHWB. Sites with existing Land Use Controls and EHMPs are are depicted as purple polygons. Click on the polygon to learn more about the site.

Additionally, this map depicts some areas and properties with known or suspected contamination that have not been fully characterized. The HEER Office has requested that HART complete additional characterization and develop location-specific EHMPs prior to breaking ground in these areas. Orange polygons with dotted lines represent areas where HART environmental characterization is ongoing. Red polygons with dotted lines mark areas where HDOH anticipates environmental investigations before HART breaks ground.

View larger map

This map also depicts several sites where HART has done additional characterization and developed Site-Specific EHE-EHMPs (green outlines). Summaries of these activities and links to relevant documents are provided in the following sections. For additional instructions on how to use the map, click here (COMING SOON).

  • Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF)

    The Honolulu Rail Transit Project MSF is an ideal model for beneficial reuse of a Brownfields Site. The MSF covers approximately 44 acres north of Pearl Harbor Middle Loch and is immediately adjacent to Leeward Community College. The site was formerly owned by the Navy and was known as the Ewa Junction Fuel Drumming Facility (EJFDF). Approximately 315,000 gallons of fuel were released from EJFDF in 1971. The Navy investigated and remediated the property until 2005. Over time, the Navy received No Further Action letters from the HEER Office and the SHWB.

    HART contractors completed additional sampling to ensure the property was safe before they began grading and construction of the MSF. In 2012, HART collected 44 soil borings from 5 to 25 ft. bgs. and field screened the soil with a photoionization detector (PID). There were no PID detections of volatile hydrocarbons, so the soil was not collected for laboratory analysis. Subsequent geotechnical investigation encountered petroleum in soil 71 ft. bgs. at one boring and in soil and groundwater 20 ft. bgs. in another. In 2012, HART also collected six soil vapor samples in areas that were assumed to be most contaminated or where future buildings were planned. No soil vapor hazards were found. HART wrote a Site-Specific EHE/EHMP, which was approved by the HEER Office in July 2012.

    In June 2015, HART proactively responded to community health concerns regarding construction-related dust by collecting surface soil samples from MSF and WOFH. Analytical results indicated that Tier 1 Action Levels for unrestricted use were not exceeded, and in situ soil is safe for human health and the environment. Even though there is no chemical risk, blowing dust is still a concern and HART will continue to implement dust control measures within the work areas as required by law.

    If you would like additional documents related to MSF or EJFDF, feel free to submit an official public records request.

  • Banana Patch

    The Banana Patch is located near MSF, in between Farrington Highway, Kamehameha Highway, and the H-1. The property has been used for agriculture and residences. Much of the soil is imported fill from an unknown source. Buried and surface debris indicate a history of illegal dumping activities. In 2014, HART thoroughly characterized the soil, groundwater, and stream sediment at the Banana Patch. They devised a Site-Specific EHE-EHMP to ensure their contractors properly manage soil and groundwater during construction in this area.

    The "Banana Patch Characterization Report and Site-Specific EHE-EHMP" can be downloaded by clicking this link. Because the file is so large, Appendix F (the laboratory reports) is not included. Feel free to download Appendix F here. For additional information about the Banana Patch, feel free to submit an official public records request to view these files.

  • RHS Lee

    This property is immediately adjacent to the Banana Patch and was used as a base yard and for vehicle maintenance. HART has done some preliminary sampling in this area; however, additional soil and groundwater sampling are required to fully characterize the site. HART has agreed to treat all soil and groundwater generated from this area as contaminated and prevent its reuse off-site until further characterization is complete and an approved EHE-EHMP is in place.

  • Aiea Laundry Plume

    In 1996, there was a release of Stoddard solvent from a tank at the Navy’s former Aiea Laundry facility. HART activities will not impact the Aiea Laundry Site, but construction activities down gradient of the site could encounter contaminated groundwater. HART developed a Site-Specific EHE-EHMP to manage Honolulu Rail Transit Project work within the plume boundaries. For additional information about the Navy’s ongoing investigation and remediation at the Aiea Laundry site, feel free to submit an official public records request.

  • Additional sites

    Airport Area – HART was advised to develop a site-specific EHE-EHMP for this area. There has not been a detailed characterization of this area, like there was in the Honolulu Harbor Area. Yet there have been several recorded, undelineated, fuel releases and a solvent plume with an unknown source. HART met with the HEER Project Manager and received information about the potential contamination they may encounter if they break ground in this area. To date, HART contractors have completed geotechnical borings near the airport, but have not yet sampled the soil, groundwater, or soil vapor.

    Dillingham Boulevard – High PID readings were reported during geotechnical work near Kohou Street and Kapalama Drainage Canal (Release ID 20140331-1012). Additional sampling and a site-specific EHE-EHMP are required in this area prior to breaking ground.

    Lagoon Chevron and Al Phillips Cleaner, Lagoon Drive – These sites were identified by HART during historical records searches and property transfers. To ensure data gaps are addressed and protocols are in place to manage contamination in these areas prior to construction, HART is coordinating with HDOH project managers. A Site-Specific EHE-EHMP was written by the Chevron contractor and HART will follow those protocols during construction of the station. A Site- Specific EHMP may also be required for the Al Phillips property.