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HILO, Hawaii (AP) — The Hawaii State Department of Health issued a final report on cleaning up two vacant commercial lots contaminated by arsenic on the Big Island.

The report recommends removing contaminated soil in the lots near Waiakea Villas in Hilo and hauling it to a landfill, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

Cleanup would cost $312,825, the report said. Removing the contaminated soil could require up to 200 truckloads, said John Peard, remediation project manager at the health department.

The soil is contaminated with arsenic from a former plant that used sugarcane bagasse to create canec, a wall- and ceiling-board panel used extensively in Hawaii until the 1970s.

Arsenic was used to make the material resistant to termites. The plant dumped hundreds of tons of arsenic into Waiakea Pond, Peard said.

“We did find there could be concern about, at least in a few areas, elevated arsenic along the edge of the pond,” Peard said.

That could be addressed by an arsenic management plan, which Peard is recommending the state Department of Land and Natural Resources conduct.

So far, he said he hasn’t seen any “red flags” in the data from fish samples, though he advises people to eat only the flesh of the fish.

A prospective buyer interested in a commercial development on the vacant lots was required to pay for the study. It is the fourth study done on the property in the past 15 years, Peard said.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald,