EPA Begins Removing Toxins on Maui

(RightWing.org) – A month after wildfires devastated much of the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun the cleanup. The burned area is littered with toxic materials that need to be removed before rebuilding can start. It could be a long and expensive process.

On September 7, The Epoch Times reported that it had received an email from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In the message, the agency said it had assigned the EPA to run the cleanup on Maui in the aftermath of the wildfires that broke out on August 8. Although some fires are still burning, most of them are now out, and with an estimated 2,200 buildings destroyed, there’s a lot of pressure to get started with rebuilding the lost homes.

The EPA’s main task is to clear away toxic materials in the areas damaged by the fire. There is a wide range of hazards; these include chemicals like paint or solvents, as well as items like batteries and propane canisters. There’s also the problem of contaminated ash; the wreckage of burned buildings can contain asbestos from insulation, along with toxic chemicals released by the fire. For example, old paint often contains lead and even arsenic.

Batteries and gas canisters can simply be removed, but the EPA plans to use specialist chemicals to deal with other hazards. Soiltac, a chemical adhesive, will be sprayed on burned areas to stop contaminated ash from being picked up and spread by the wind. The product traps toxins in what its manufacturer calls “a durable and water-resistant matrix of flexible solid-mass.”

The cleanup effort could be expensive; the FEMA spokesman admitted, “We do not currently have a cost estimate for this part of the community recovery process.” On top of the estimated $5.6 billion in damage caused by the fire itself, the cost of decontaminating the island is likely to be heavy.

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