- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - A fireworks company wants to gradually explode seized fireworks that remain stored in the Waikele bunker where an explosion and fire killed five workers in 2011.

Grucci Inc. has applied for an emergency permit from the Honolulu Department of Health to dispose of 5,400 pyrotechnic devices, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/1tutB6a) reported.

The company proposes to ignite them once per month for six months in equal increments at a Waianae chicken farm, said Steven Chang, chief of the Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch. That works out to firing off 900 devices per month.

The fireworks are under the control of the U.S. Department of Treasury, which contacted Grucci and asked how best to dispose of them. Grucci advised that the best way was to set them off as they were intended to be fired, Chang said.

The plan has drawn objection from Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, who represents Waianae.

“I am really tired of people dumping things in my district that they don’t want, especially dangerous fireworks,” she said. “It just seems like an inappropriate place to be disposing of dangerous materials.”

Residents received little notification of the proposal, she said, and surrounding farms have livestock sensitive to loud noise.

A public notice said the department intends within 45 days to issue a hazardous waste emergency permit for the fireworks.

“They are deemed unsafe, due to shelf life, and are deemed unsafe for long-term storage,” the notice said.

Health and fire department officials have had “long and exhaustive” conversations with federal officials about the 39 remaining pallets of fireworks, Chang said.

The April 8, 2011, explosion at the bunker killed five Donaldson Enterprises employees who were disposing of fireworks.

The workers tried to cut the fireworks open, soak them in diesel and burn them, Chang said.

A federal report said the employees were working outside the storage tunnel but brought materials inside as heavy rain fell. The fire could have been started by a spark of static electricity or another source, according to the report.


Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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