Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office

The State Department of Health Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response (HEER) Office's mission is to protect human health and the environment. The HEER Office reports directly to the Environmental Health Administration Deputy Director. The HEER Office provides leadership, support, and partnership in preventing, planning for, responding to, and enforcing environmental laws relating to releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances.

What's New

April 2016 - Pesticide Use by Large Agribusinesses on Kauai Draft Report

The Joint Fact Finding Study Group released a draft report entitled Pesticide Use by Large Agribusinesses on Kauai. Read DOH’s comments on the technical aspects of and recommendations made in the the draft report. For further information on DOH’s regulatory and research roles on non target impacts of pesticides in the environment see:
HDOH Pesticide Studies and Coordination with other Agencies
Statewide Pesticide Survey
Pesticide and Heavy Metal Poisoning Reporting Information

April 2016 - Emergency Environmental Response Support Services Request for Competitive Sealed Proposals

The Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office (HEER) of the Hawaii Department of Health is seeking qualified environmental contractors to provide comprehensive emergency environmental services to the Department. Scope of services include, but are not limited to, providing various time critical response actions during incidents where the releases or potential releases of hazardous substances present an imminent and substantial threat to public health and/or the environment as described in the Hawaii Environmental Response Law (Chapter 128D, HRS). Proposals will be received up to 4:30 (HST) on May 25, 2016. For further information see the document links below.
Legal Ad
Solicitation No. HEER-ER2016

March 2016 - Non-Emergency Environmental Response Support Services Request for Competitive Sealed Proposals

The Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office (HEER) of the Hawaii Department of Health is seeking qualified environmental contractors to provide comprehensive non-emergency environmental services to the Department. The services will assist the Department in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Hawaii Environmental Response Law (Chapter 128D, HRS). Proposals will be received up to 4:30 (HST) on April 20, 2016. For further information see the document links below.
Legal Ad
Request for Proposals No. RFP-HEER-NES2016
State's Response to Questions and Answers about RFP-HEER-NES2016

February, 2016 - Public Meeting and Invitation to Comment on Pearl Harbor Sediments Remediation Proposed Plan

Please join the Navy, Department of Health HEER Office and US EPA at a public meeting at the Aiea Elementary School Cafeteria at 99-370 Moanalua Road, Aiea, Hawaii 7 p.m. on February 10, 2016 to discuss the Proposed Plan for the Pearl Harbor Sediment site, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oahu, Hawaii.

The site is part of the Pearl Harbor Naval Complex National Priorities List site. Under CERCLA, the Navy is responsible for the investigation and cleanup of contamination resulting from its past operations. The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) and EPA Region 9 have reviewed the Navy's investigation results and concur with the conclusions and recommendations for the site.

The public is invited to review and comment on the Proposed Plan. The 30-day public comment period for the Proposed Plan is from February 1, 2016 - March 1, 2016. Verbal and written comments can be provided at the public meeting. Alternatively, written comments can be provided to the Navy no later than March 1, 2016. For more detailed information about providing comment, please see the formal Notice of Public Meeting.

After carefully considering all comments received during the public comment period, the Navy will select a final remedy for the Pearl Harbor Sediment site, in coordination with the EPA and HDOH. The selected final remedy for the Pearl Harbor Sediment site will be presented in a Record of Decision.

If you have questions or would like more information about the meeting, please contact Ms. Denise Emsley, NAVFAC Hawaii at (808) 471-7300 or by email, denise.emsley@navy.mil.

February, 2016 - New Draft Hawaii HEER TGM Section 8 - Field Screening Methods, for Review and Comments

A new Draft HEER Office Technical Guidance Manual (TGM) Section 8, on Field Screening Methods, is linked below for review and comment by environmental consultants and other interested individuals. Comments are welcome to help improve this guidance, and are requested by March 15, 2016. See the Invitation to Comment letter also linked below for details on the ways you may comment and where to send them. Comments will be used to help finalize this new Section for posting in our on-line TGM.

Invitation to Comment on New Draft TGM Section 8 - Field Screening Methods
TGM Section 8 Draft - Field Screening Methods (1.6 MB)

January, 2016 - Preliminary Updates to Hawaii HEER TGM, Sections 3, 4, and 5 - For Review and Comment

The HEER Office has completed Preliminary Updates to Technical Guidance Manual (TGM) Section 3 – Site Investigation Design and Implementation, Section 4 – Decision Unit and Multi Increment Sampling, and Section 5 – Soil and Sediment Sample Collection. These three TGM Sections provide proposed updated guidance important for all site investigations and/or remediation response actions involving soil or sediment contamination in Hawai'i. Review and comments on these preliminary updates is solicited through February 29, 2016. Comments will be used to help finalize these sections before they are posted to the HEER Office on-line TGM. See links below for the Invitation to Comment including how to comment and where to send comments, followed by a Note on Updates (to each Section) and the Preliminary Updates (to each Section) for review and comment:

Invitation to Comment on Preliminary Updates to Hawaii HEER TGM Sections 3, 4, and 5
Note on Preliminary Updates to TGM Section 3
TGM Section 3 - Site Investigation Design and Implementation - Preliminary Updates(3.5 MB)
Note on Preliminary Updates to TGM Section 4
TGM Section 4 - Decision Unit and Multi Increment Sampling - Preliminary Updates (4.1 MB)
Note on Preliminary Updates to TGM Section 5
TGM Section 5 -Soil and Sediment Sampling Collection - Preliminary Updates (3.6 MB)

November, 2015 – Final Cleanup Work Plan and Public Meeting Scheduled (12/10/15) for the Former Kohala Sugar Company Pesticide Mixing Site

In April 2014, the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH), Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office approved a “Cleanup Action Plan” for the former Kohala Sugar pesticide mixing site located outside the town of Hawi in North Kohala. See the “Whats New” entry below for July, 2014 for a fact sheet and detailed report on that Cleanup Action Plan. Subsequently, a more detailed “Cleanup Work Plan” was developed for implementation, and a Compliance Agreement was signed by HDOH and the landowner, Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC) to ensure the work would be carried out as planned. See the links below for these two documents. Finally, a second public meeting regarding the site will be held in Kapaau on the evening of December 10, 2015 for HICDC and HDOH to help inform the community regarding the Cleanup Work Plan and the anticipated cleanup work schedule. See the Public Notice link below for more details on this public information meeting.

Public Notice - Cleanup Work Plan and Public Meeting: Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site
Final Cleanup Work Plan - Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site (8.2 MB)
HDOH-HICDC Compliance Agreement - Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site (1.65 MB)

October 2015 – Field Study of Discrete Soil Sample Variability Webinars

The HEER Office held two webinars this month on the use of discrete soil sample data in environmental investigations (refer to July, 2015 –Discrete Sample Variability Study Updates posting). An estimated 100 to 200 people joined in the webinars, including consultants and regulators from over other ten states as well as staff from several USEPA Regional offices.

The first webinar reviews the results of a field study of discrete soil sample variability carried out by the HEER office in 2013-2014 (see links in July posting). The second webinar describes how random variability both within discrete samples and between co-located samples limits reliability of the data for decision making and is the cause of failed confirmation samples, artificial “hot spots” and “cold spots” and overly drawn out environmental investigations. The webinar series concludes with an overview of Decision Unit and Multi Increment Sample investigation methods as a new set of tools specifically designed to address errors and inefficiencies in traditional, discrete sample investigation approaches.

PowerPoint slides and links to recordings of the presentations are posted to the HEER Office webinar page. Comments and suggestions for the webinars and the field study reports are welcome and can be sent to Roger Brewer at roger.brewer@doh.hawaii.gov. Updates to the study reports are anticipated in the spring of 2016.

September 2015

The Hawaii Brownfields Forum #7 will be held Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Neal Blaisdell Center.

July, 2015 –Discrete Sample Variability Study Updates

The HEER office carried out a field study of potential discrete soil sample error in 2013 and 2014. The study evaluated the variability of contaminant concentrations both within discrete soil samples and between closely located sample points. The goal of this study was to provide a better understanding of the magnitude and sources of error associated with the use of discrete soil samples for the investigation and cleanup of contaminated properties.
Part 1 of the study presents the results of detailed, discrete soil sampling at three sites in Hawai´i previously known to be contaminated with arsenic (Study Site A), lead (Study Site B) and PCBs (Study Site C). The report, initially posted in October 2014, was updated in June 2015 to include additional analytical data as well as additional, statistical evaluation of the data. The updated report, including Excel files of data summary tables, can be downloaded from the links below.
Part 1: Summary of Field Data (pdf, 8,263KB)
Part 1: Appendix 1: Lab Reports (27 MB)
Part 1: Data Summary Tables (Excel, 5,464KB)
Part 2 of the study evaluates the sources of random variability of contaminant concentrations in discrete soil samples and discusses implications for the use of discrete soil sample data in environmental investigations. Topics discussed include: 1) Concepts of contaminant distribution in soil during preparation of environmental guidance in the 1980s and 1990s, 2) Nature and importance of “hot spots” versus “hot areas,” 3) Factors behind the need for multiple, remobilizations for site characterization, 4) Causes of “failed” confirmation samples following site remediation, 5) Artificial “hot spots” and “cold spots” in computer-generated, isoconcentration maps, and 6) Use of discrete sample data in environmental risk assessments, including the appropriateness of excluding “outlier” data in estimates of mean, contaminant concentrations. The report for Part 2 of the study can be downloaded from the following links:
Part 2: Implications (pdf, 11,572KB)
Part 2: Summary Tables (Excel, 249KB)
It is hoped that the results of this study will contribute to the current, re-evaluation of the reliability of discrete soil samples in environmental investigations and the need to move toward more technically defensible and efficient, incremental sampling methods. The reports will be updated and amended as needed in the future. Comments and suggestions are welcome and should be provided to Roger Brewer at roger.brewer@doh.hawaii.gov.

April 2015 - Iwilei District Programmatic EHE/EHMP

The Iwilei District encompasses approximately 315 acres of land in Honolulu and includes land owned privately and by the State of Hawaii. The Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response (HEER) Office of the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is overseeing remediation of potentially hazardous contaminants of concern that are present in soil, groundwater, and soil gas at various locations within the Iwilei District. Widespread, shallow petroleum contamination related to past releases from tank farms and pipelines is the primary concern, but metals and pesticides are also present in some areas.

To assist those who may become exposed to this contamination, the HEER office has developed a Programmatic Environmental Hazard Evaluation (EHE) /Environmental Hazard Management Plan (EHMP) document for the Iwilei District. This document details remedial measures and controls that are consistent with EHMPs implemented at other sites in Hawaii where contamination is present. No further investigation or remedial action is required at many of these sites, provided that long-term site management requirements in the EHMP are followed.

The document can be downloaded here: Programmatic Environmental Hazard Evaluation (EHE) /Environmental Hazard Management Plan (EHMP) document for the Iwilei District

A Webinar on the Programmatic EHE/EHMP was held on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. The full Long Term Management of Contaminated Soil and Groundwater webinar can be viewed on YouTube or the PowerPoint Presentation can be downloaded.

Recorded Vapor Intrusion Webinars

The HEER office is sponsoring a series of webinars on topics related to environmental contamination and remediation.

March 11, 2015 - Use of Active and Passive Soil Gas Samples to Support Vapor Intrusion Investigations
February 18, 2015 - Dungeons, Dragons, Pica Houses and the Need for Alternative, Vapor Intrusion Screening Tools

Information and download links for the webinars are provided on the HEER Office webinar page.

December 2014 - KGMB News Story on the ERRF

KGMB News video featuring Chris Lee explaining the function of the Environmental Response Revolving Fund (ERRF), describing the ERRF funding crisis, and discussing legislative action needed to avoid losing critical positions at DOH that protect our environment.

October, 2014 - UXO FORUM POSTPONED

Due to inclement weather conditions from Hurricane ANA, the UXO Forum will be postponed to a later date. As your attendance is important to us, we will contact you when we re-schedule the event.
Thank you for your support in our effort of UXO awareness and education.

July, 2014 – Final Cleanup Action Plan Approved for the Former Kohala Sugar Company Pesticide Mixing Site

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH), Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office has approved a final cleanup action plan for the former Kohala Sugar Company pesticide storage/mixing site located near Hawi on Hawai‘i Island (TMK 03-5-5-019: 025, portion). The soils on a portion of this site are known to be contaminated with arsenic and dioxins at levels that require action to reduce potential for future exposures. A 2-page fact sheet describing the site and the approved cleanup action plan, as well as the complete Final Removal Action Report describing the site, Draft Removal action plan, public comment process, and the final cleanup action plan in more detail (67 pages, Part 1 Appendix Lab reports, Part 2) are provided in the links below. Detailed work implementation specifics will also be required for HEER Office review and approval before this cleanup action is started.

Fact Sheet on Approved Cleanup Action Plan for the former Kohala Sugar Pesticide Storage/Mix
Final Removal Action Report- former Kohala Sugar Pesticide Storage/Mix (Part 1: Text, Figures, Tables) (1.1 MB)
Final Removal Action Report- former Kohala Sugar Pesticide Storage/Mix (Part 2: Appdx: Lab Reports) (9.2 MB)

July, 2014 – Final Cleanup Action Plan Approved for the Former Hakalau Pesticide Mixing Site

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH), Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office has approved a final cleanup action plan for the former Hakalau/Pepe‘ekeo pesticide storage/mixing site at Hakalau on Hawai‘i Island (TMKs 03-2-9-02:79&81). The soils on a portion of this site are known to be contaminated with arsenic at levels that require action to reduce potential for future exposures. A 2-page fact sheet describing the site and the approved cleanup action plan, as well as the complete Final Removal Action Report describing the site, Draft Removal action plan, public comment process, and the final cleanup action plan in more detail (76 pages) are provided in the links below. Detailed work implementation specifics will also be required for HEER Office review and approval before this cleanup action is started.

Fact Sheet on Approved Cleanup Action Plan for the former Hakalau Pesticide Storage/Mixing Site
Final Removal Action Report for the former Hakalau Pesticide Storage/Mixing Site (4 MB)

May 2014 - Vanadium in Hawaii's Drinking Water

Vanadium is naturally occurring in Hawaii’s drinking water and not considered to be harmful at the levels present.
Vanadium in Drinking Water Fact Sheet

May 2014 - HEER Office Addresses Statewide Pesticide Concerns

Given the increased community concerns on Kauai and elsewhere about pesticide drift, the HEER Office has created a web page with documents and links addressing various aspects of pesticide use in Hawaii. Follow this link to go directly to the findings of the 2013-14 State Wide Pesticide Sampling Pilot Project.

December 2013 – Public Comment Period on Proposed Cleanup Actions for the Former Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site, December 5, 2013 – January 8, 2014

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH), Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office is inviting public review and comment on proposed cleanup actions at the former Kohala pesticide mixing site near Hawi, North Kohala district, Hawai‘i Island (TMK 03-5-5-019:025, portion). The soils on a portion of this site are known to be contaminated with arsenic and dioxins at levels that require action to reduce potential for future exposures. A Draft Cleanup Grant application that the landowner, Hawai‘i Island Community Development Corporation (HICDC) is planning to submit to a competitive USEPA grant program to seek partial funding for a site cleanup is also available for public review and comment. The public notice, a site fact sheet, the Draft Removal Action Report, and the Draft HICDC Cleanup Grant application are available for review and comment until January 8, 2014 (see links below). After the public comment period, the HEER Office will carefully consider all comments received and make a final determination on actions to address contamination at this site.

Public Notice for former Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site
Fact Sheet on Proposed Cleanup at the former Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site
Draft Removal Action Report - former Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site (Part 1, text, figures, tables – 1.7 MB)
Draft Removal Action Report - former Kohala Pesticide Mixing Site (Part 2, original lab reports – 9 MB)
Draft HICDC Cleanup Grant application

September 2013 - Honolulu Harbor Molasses Spill

Information and Updates

July 2013 - Draft Programmatic EHE/EHMP for the Iwilei District Mauka of Nimitz Highway

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response (HEER) office would like to thank those who attended out May 3, 2013 public meeting and responded with comments to our draft Iwilei Programmatic Environmental Hazard Evaluation and Environmental Hazard Management Plan (EHE/EHMP). The purpose of the EHE/EHMP is to provide guidance on the proper management of contaminated soil and groundwater encountered during installation and repairs of utilities in roadways, common areas and on properties that are not presently covered by a HDOH-approved EHE/EHMP. A Response to Comments solicited from the draft and a revised draft are available through the links below.

May 2013 – Public Comment Period on Proposed Cleanup Actions for the Former Hakalau Pesticide Storage/Mixing Site, May 15 – June 20, 2013

The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH), Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office is inviting public review and comment on proposed cleanup actions at the former Hakalau/Pepe‘ekeo pesticide storage/mixing site at Hakalau on Hawai‘i Island (TMKs 03-2-9-02:79&81). The soils on a portion of this site are known to be contaminated with arsenic at levels that require action to reduce potential for future exposures. The public notice, a site fact sheet, and the Draft Removal Action Report are available for review and comment until June 20, 2013 (see links below). After the public comment period, the HEER Office will carefully consider all comments received and make a final determination on actions to address contamination at this site.

October 2012

Draft Updates to Section 7 of our Technical Guidance Manual (TGM): Soil Vapor and Indoor Air Sampling Guidance are available on the TGM Website.

August 2012 - Community Meeting and Upcoming Cleanup Action of Former Pesticide Mixing Area, Kilauea, Hawaii

Kilauea Removal Action Community Meeting Notice
EPA Cleanup of Kilauea PMA Fact Sheet July 2012
Kilauea Kekaha Landfill Disposal Fact Sheet
News Release: U.S. EPA, Hawaii Department of Health clean up soil in Kilauea neighborhood

June 2012 - 1,2,3-Trichloropropane Report

The Hawaii State Department of Health is making available a report on the human health risks of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP), a contaminant found in some sources of drinking water in Hawai‘i. The purpose of the report is to review the available data on the potential human health effects of TCP as a drinking water contaminant and evaluate the adequacy of Hawaii’s MCL for TCP.

June 2012 – Draft RAM Available for Hickam Communities Remedial Action Site

HDOH is soliciting public comment on its Draft Response Action Memorandum for the Hickam Communities Remedial Action site. Soils at the site contain elevated levels of organochlorine pesticides due to past application of termiticides. HDOH is proposing a remedy to address this hazard that combines engineering controls (soil caps and geotextile marker layers) with institutional controls. The official public comment period on the proposed remedy begins June 11, 2012, and ends July 11, 2012. A fact sheet is available.

The following supporting documents for the proposed remedy are also available:
(1) Removal Action Report (RAR) (28MB);
(2) Remedial Investigation Report (RI) (5MB), RI Report Appendices: A (1MB), B (12MB), C-1 (9MB), C-2 (7MB), C-3 (8MB), C-4 (7MB), C-5 (8MB), D (4MB), & F (1MB);
(3) Environmental Hazard Evaluation (EHE, RI Report Appendix E) (28MB);
(4) Remedial Alternatives Analysis (RAA) (3MB);
(5) Environmental Hazard Management Plan (EHMP) (29MB); and
(6) Land Use Controls Inventory Document (LUCID) (17MB).

May 2012 - Hanalei River

The Hawaii State Department of Health is providing the following information in response to an AP story posted by the Star Advertiser on April 30 (Biologist: Hanalei river, bay should be tested):
The concentrations of Arsenic, barium, chromium and lead reported by Hanalei River Heritage Foundation are within anticipated, natural background levels for the volcanic soils and related sediments of the Hawaiian Islands. The metals are naturally occurring, are tightly bound within minerals in the soil and are not toxic to humans or wildlife. The terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna of Kaua‘i have lived with these metals since the island was created millions of years ago. They are similar to levels of metals in soil that would be found anywhere on the islands as well as much of the world, and are not related to manmade pollution. This is well documented in numerous reports over the past several decades, and summarized in the recent draft report “Hawaiian Islands Soil Metal Background Evaluation Report” prepared for the Hazard Evaluation and Emergency Response Office of the Department of Health. Hanalei River Heritage Foundation incorrectly compared the sediment (mud) data to regulatory standards for drinking water. These are completely unrelated standards and are not applicable to metals in soil or sediment.

If you need more information or have any questions, please contact the Site Discovery, Assessment & Response Supervisor Fenix Grange at 586-4249.

May 2012 - The Hawaiian Islands Soil Metal Background Evaluation Report Now Available

The Hawaiian Islands background metals study has been in progress for several years and incorporates soil sample data from several technical and scientific sources. This report presents an evaluation of naturally occurring background concentrations of metals and related elements in the volcanic soils of the seven main Hawaiian islands (Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Maui, Kaho‘olawe, and Hawai‘i Island). Soil sample data were evaluated using cumulative probability plots, spatial and soil type distribution univariate plots, detailed spatial analysis, elemental association, geochemical analysis and professional judgment to estimate Hawai‘i-specific background concentration ranges. For more information on the report see the Cover Memo. View the full Hawaiian Islands Soil Metal Background Evaluation Report. View the summary table comparing background concentration ranges to HDOH Environmental Action Levels (EAL). Go to the Background Metals in Hawai‘ian Islands Soils page.

April 2012 - Kilauea, Kauai Pesticide Mixing Area Investigation Final Report Now Available

The HEER Office has completed extensive subsurface soil sampling of the former pesticide mixing and storage operation affecting three properties on Aalona Place in Kilauea on the island of Kauai. The final report is now available for public review. The report findings will be used by US EPA, DOH and the County of Kauai to determine appropriate actions needed to remediate the soils and restore safe use of the properties affected.

Download the Kilauea Site Inspection report to learn more:

December 5, 2011 - ADC Kekaha Diesel Generator Public Comment

HDOH has completed their response to public comment and made the Final Kekaha Emergency Generator Installation Site Remedial Decision and Responsiveness Summary.
There are a number of attachments to the document, available on the ADC Kekaha Diesel Generator page as separate items for ease of downloading.

October 2011 – New Fact Sheet and Sampling Guide for Termiticides

A new Fact Sheet and Sampling Guide for Organochlorine Termiticides at Residential Sites have been posted on the HEER Office Website, Technical Guidance and Fact Sheet page.

June 2011 - Hawai‘i Business News Article

Read how Brownfields and contaminated sites affect development in Hawaii.

June 2011 - Kilauea Pesticide Mixing Area Investigation

The HEER Office is continuing investigation of soil contamination from a former pesticide mixing and storage operation affecting two properties on Aalona Place in Kilauea on the island of Kauai. This summer we plan to collect more than 90 samples to further delineate the areas of contamination in preparation for a removal action. Download the following materials to learn more:

May 2011 - Fifth Hawai‘i Brownfields Forum

Access agenda, presentations and other event information.