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Resources for Debris Removal

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Last updated March 6, 2024

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Get Right of Entry Support at the Resource Centers

Right of Entry Collection Centers are available for in-person submission of ROEs. At these centers, staff is available to assist owners by answering questions, suggesting resources and starting the application process.  Army Corps staff with special knowledge of the debris removal process will also be available to answer questions. Centers are located at:

Kāko‘o Maui Relief & Aid Services Center

Monday - Friday at 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Phone: 808-204-2722
Email: kakoomaui@hawaiiancouncil.org

153 E Kamehameha Ave, Suite 101, Kahului (Maui Mall Village, next to Subway)
​Get Directions

Applicants may also call the State of Hawaii Call Center (supporting Maui County) for assistance in filing out an ROE application at (808) 727-1550, 7 AM – 7 PM Monday through Saturday.

Get Assistance with your Consolidated Debris Removal Questions

Once a Right-of-Entry (ROE) application has been reviewed and approved by the County of Maui, the ROE will be transferred to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for processing and scheduling.

Several factors determine when a lot will be scheduled for debris removal. To maximize efficiency, USACE will schedule their work based on priorities set by the County.

Debris Removal Related Resources

Debris Removal Issue Resolution Process

If property owners encounter an issue during the Debris Removal Program, they may engage with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Issue Resolution Process by contacting their Call Center at 877-214-9117. A USACE team will walk you through a series of questions to complete Issue Resolution documentation. The team will review the issues presented, your Right of Entry form, a Site Assessment and other relevant information. If needed, the team will engage in other data collection such as a site visit and or interviews. Please note, the Issue Resolution Process is case specific and thus response times may vary. USACE appreciates your patience and understanding.

If you need assistance, contact the USACE Call Center at 877-214-9117.

Call USACE


Helpful Documents

Submitting Right of Entry Applications in Maui: 3 Convenient Methods Explained
Submitting Right of Entry Form for Probate Properties: Important Considerations
What information do I need to submit an ROE form?
Where can I get help with my ROE?
What happens after I submit an ROE form?
What if my ROE is missing information? Here's What to Expect
Debris Removal is CoDebris removal has begun in Lahaina


Learn more about Debris Removal

What does "fire debris removal" actually mean?
Who is doing the removal?
Who are the monitors?
Understanding Fire Debris Cleanup: What Stays, What Goes, and Where to Seek Help
Confidentiality in the ROE Process: Protecting Cultural Resources
Guiding Contractors: Identifying Sensitive Items During Cleanup
What happens if cultural artifacts are uncovered during the cleanup process?

Workshop Recordings

January 13, 2024

Right Of Entry Workshop

January 28, 2024

Right Of Entry Workshop

February 24, 2024

Alternate Debris Cleanup Workshop

FAQs for Debris Removal

Sign Up

Get Started on the Maui Wildfire Debris Cleanup Right of Entry (ROE) Portal

In order to opt-in to the Government-sponsored Consolidated Debris Removal Program, property owners must complete a Right-of-Entry (ROE) form to allow the US Army Corps of Engineers and their contractors to access their property to conduct the debris removal. No removal of non-hazardous, fire-damaged material will begin on private property without the permission of the property owner.

An online portal has been established for submitting a Right-of-Entry form. Choose a button below to get started in the portal.

New Applicant?

Already have an account?

Documents and information need to complete a Right-of-Entry:

  • Property Information (Property’s Tax Map Key, Address, and Site Sketch)
  • Contact Information (Phone Number and Email Address)
  • Insurance Information (declaration page, debris removal coverage section, auto insurance)
  • Signatures and Verification of all Owners, Trustees, or Authorized Agents (Click here to view the Supporting Verification Documents)



Right-of-Entry forms can also be submitted to ROE@mauirecovers.org OR a physical copy of a Right-of-Entry and accompanying documents can be mailed to:

Public Works Department
Attn: ROE intake
200 S. High Street
Wailuku, HI 96793

Advice to help fill out Right-of-Entry

  • Homeowners should be encouraged to list septic tanks, leach fields, survey monuments, cesspools, gravesites, or any other important structures when doing their ROE drawing.
  • If property owners are unsure about the eligibility of material/items on their property or would like to keep certain items, it would be helpful to specify the material/item they would like to keep or specifically have removed from their property.
  • Certain items may require additional eligibility determinations for removal, so when in doubt, it's better to document. For example, if the homeowner has an above-ground, fiberglass pool that was melted during the fire but is held up by a retaining wall, it would be beneficial to them to note that they would like the pool and retaining wall to be removed.

Learn more about Alternative Program FAQs

How long will residents have to sign up?

A deadline to opt-in to the Government-sponsored Consolidated Debris Removal Program has not been set. Until a deadline is established by the County, residents will still be able to submit a Right-of-Entry.

Will work be done based on signups (first come, first served) or will the contractor work in a grid pattern?

Contractor will be solely responsible for planning debris removal schedule of work. They will be given a scope of work and locations based on ROE sign ups and well as the areas that phase 1 has already happened in consideration and they will work in whatever pattern makes sense for their crew.

Is the US Army Corps doing debris removal for public, commercial and residential properties?

Yes, if opted-in the Government-sponsored Debris Removal Program. Fire-related structural ash and debris are being removed from public, residential and commercial properties. Ash and debris removal efforts were completed in early January in Upcountry (Kula, Olinda, and Makawao), and are underway in Lahaina. This effort does not include the removal of fugitive ash from properties adjacent to properties with destroyed structures.

How does debris removal work for survivors who rent?

Only property owners can opt in to the Government-sponsored Debris Removal Program and submit a Right-of-Entry. Renters should check with the property owner to ensure the owner is aware of their Debris Removal options.

FEMA

Do I need to be enrolled with FEMA Individual Assistance to enroll in the debris removal program?

No. They are two separate programs, and you will have to sign up for both independently to be a part of both.

Will FEMA or another government agencies be able to seize my land if I sign the ROE Form?

No. The ROE is only valid for the duration of the program and does not affect ownership of the property in any way. The ROE is only valid for the duration of the program. After the cleanup is completed, FEMA will provide a detailed report about the cleanup process and the ROE will be nullified.

Will FEMA take all my insurance proceeds?

No. Insurance proceeds will be collected by the county for debris removal coverage if your policy had any.

Will the resident need to produce any applicable insurance they might have had, during the PPDR process?

Yes, ROE form has a place for owner to input insurance information. If owner does not have insurance, there is no further action needed. If the owner does have insurance with debris removal as a specific line item on their insurance policy, they must remit the amount provided to them from the insurance company to the county. It is suggested they contact their insurance company to ask questions if they are unsure of specific coverage. If you receive an insurance payout for debris removal and have USACE clean your property for free, you are receiving duplicate benefits.

Will Lahaina, the TDS site, or permanent disposal site at the Central Maui Landfill be considered ‘Superfund’ sites?

No. Though USEPA used resources (personnel, equipment, contractors, etc.) from its Superfund program with funding through a mission assignment from FEMA to conduct Phase 1 cleanup operations, this isn't considered a Superfund site. A Superfund site is typically a cleanup project where no other regulatory authority can conduct the work and is meant to address former industrial activities. The permanent disposal site will be built and operated under state and Federal laws other than the Superfund law.

Alternative Programs

Is participation in both Phase 1 and 2 of the debris removal process mandatory?

Yes, fire-impacted properties with eligible debris are required to complete both Phase 1 and 2 of the program.

For Phase 1, all properties are required to have hazardous materials and waste removed. These items can be hazardous and require special handling and disposal. The EPA will complete this process for all fire-impacted properties. Phase 1 of the Program is being conducted at no cost to property owners.

Phase 2 debris removal by the Corps is optional; however, properties that opt out of this option are still required to provide for the timely removal of hazardous debris fields, and deadlines will be set by the County. Removal by a private contractor is authorized but must be done at the homeowner’s expense, and work done must meet or exceed the standards set by local, state and federal agencies. This includes compliance with all legal requirements for handling, disposal at authorized disposal sites, soil sampling and transportation. In addition, best management practices must be utilized along with work activity documentation and erosion control. 

Are there other programs that can help with debris clean-up?

Some volunteer organizations can assist with tasks for reentry, however, it is not anticipated that VOADS will play a role in the USACE Debris Removal Program.

Do people have to take advantage of the Government-sponsored Consolidated Debris Removal Program? If they choose not to, what should they do?

This issue is currently before Maui County Council. Opt-out forms were required in previous events; however, Maui County is still in development of their opt-out procedures and Alternate Debris Removal Program standards. The county will require self-performed debris removal to comply with all legal requirements including compliance with use of appropriate disposal sites, best management practices, proper testing, erosion control, cultural monitoring, etc.

Can survivors select their own contractor through Consolidated Debris Removal Program?

No. We cannot in any way direct the means and methods the contractors use to include which crew does what. There will be a Native Hawaiian specifically Lahaina cultural monitor on the site to oversee the work being done.

Debris Removal Process

Process & Updates for cleanup and removal of fire debris

For all the latest information on Maui Recover's website regarding Fire Debris Removal, click here. Here is critical information focused on the most commonly asked questions:

About Fire Debris Removal

Fire Debris Removal is the removal of the remaining structural ash and debris and may include soil testing. The County of Maui, State of Hawai‘i, FEMA and local officials are coordinating with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to offer a Consolidated Debris Removal Program. The program allows the Corps to conduct the safe removal and handling of fire-damaged debris from destroyed properties.

A private fire debris removal process will be established for those who want to opt out of the Consolidated Debris Removal Program. The County is currently working to develop the process, guidance documents and forms for private contractor fire debris removal and will have the information published soon.

How long will Debris Removal take?

The cleanup in Kula/Olinda took a few months, as the quantity of ash and debris was a small fraction of the amount in Lahaina. The cleanup in Lahaina will take the better part of 2024.

Phases of Fire Debris Removal

Fire debris removal is broken down into two phases:

Phase 1:

When Phase 1 was complete, EPA posted a sign on each property when hazardous waste removal was completed, and notified the broader community when hazardous materials removal was completed in an entire neighborhood. View EPA’s online resource tool, which provides information on their process, progress and completion status: bit.ly/EPAprogress​

Hazardous Materials Removal is the removal of hazardous materials that may impact human health, animals and the environment through exposure. In coordination with the County of Maui and the State of Hawai‘i, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assigned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to survey, remove and dispose of hazardous material from all properties impacted by the wildfires in Lahaina, Kula and Olinda.​Hazardous materials included compressed gas cylinders, pesticides, paints, oils, fertilizers, ammunition and batteries (including lithium-ion batteries, particularly household solar battery storage systems). These items can contain hazardous ingredients and require special handling and disposal.

Phase 2:

Once a Right-of-Entry (ROE) form is signed for Phase 2, Army Corps employees contacts homeowners that are enrolled in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program via phone 24-48 hours in advance to provide notice of work start times. The Corps’ contractor is required to provide the Corps a formal report of completion. The Corps provides those reports to the county, and the county notifies homeowners. A Phase 2 map, showing progress, will be published once work gets underway.

 

Where has this happened before and what was done to clean up the impacted areas?

FEMA and USACE have dealt with similar situations in recent years in California, Colorado and New Mexico. Experiences and best practices from these incidents are being utilized by both agencies in supporting cleanup and recovery operations on Maui, which are similar to the approaches employed after those disasters.


Is there a possibility the temporary debris storage (TDS) site becomes the permanent disposal site for fire ash and debris?
No. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) constructed the TDS to temporarily stage debris until the County of Maui constructs a permanent disposal site at the Central Maui Landfill.


Can the cleanup work and transport be conducted at night?


No. The cleanup, transport and unloading efforts at the TDS would be less effective and unsafe to conduct during night-time hours for a variety of reasons. Trained archaeological and cultural monitors are present at every worksite and need adequate natural lighting to identify artifacts, archaeological features, and potential burial sites.  Cleanup crews walk around parcels during cleanup to visually identify ash and debris which may be left behind or unable to access by excavators. Artificial lighting has been discouraged for ecological reasons as bright lights are known to distract or disorient marine life, particularly nesting turtles, who are active at night. Further, excessive noise associated with night operations might also be disconcerting to nearby community members.  Finally, cleanup crews are working up to 12 hours/day, 7 days a week, and need time to rest and recharge before the next day’s shift.


How long will this whole process take?

The cleanup in Upcountry was completed in mid-January, as the quantity of ash and debris was a small fraction of the amount in Lahaina.  The cleanup and transfer of ash/debris from Lahaina into the TDS site will extend into January 2025.  Efforts are underway to expedite the planning, design and construction of a permanent disposal site (PDS) at the Central Maui Landfill, which could be completed in late 2024.

How can a resident find out when their property is projected to be cleared?

Residents will be contacted with their scheduled debris removal date 72 hours in advance. USACE contractors will place a sign on the property that indicates the status of their property through a checklist. It is our intent to also make the status available online. Property owners should be able to navigate to a map, input their address, and see the current status there.

Current estimates for USACE Phase 1 – 90 days. Phase 2 - 6-12 months.

What will be removed and what will be left?

Ash and debris will be removed from all impacted areas including public, residential and commercial areas.

  • Foundations - Yes. Unfortunately, foundations will be removed. Due to the high heat of the fire, most foundations are structurally compromised, and cannot safely be rebuilt upon. Because of this, the debris removal program will be removing foundations as a part of the cleanup.
  • Structural walls are eligible for removal, landscape walls not eligible. Structural walls are not removed if a structural engineer assessment shows they are sound.
  • Vehicles/vessels, titled property. Titled property will be adjudicated and recycled.
  • Driveways/Pathways - Generally not eligible unless within the ash footprint and will be cut at the point of being out of the ash footprint.
  • Swimming Pools – Pools will be drained of ash and roped off in accordance with OSHA standards.
How long will this whole process take?

The cleanup in Upcountry was completed in mid-January, as the quantity of ash and debris was a small fraction of the amount in Lahaina. The cleanup and transfer of ash/debris from Lahaina into the TDS site will extend into January 2025. Efforts are underway to expedite the planning, design and construction of a permanent disposal site (PDS) at the Central Maui Landfill, which could be completed in late 2024.

Learn more about the entire Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the Fire Debris Removal process.

How will I know that the process has started and completed?

Phase 1 is currently underway; EPA will post a sign on each property when hazardous waste removal is complete, and will also notify the broader community when hazardous materials removal is completed in an entire neighborhood. View EPA’s online resource tool, which provides information on their process, progress and completion status: bit.ly/EPAprogress  

Once a Right of Entry (ROE) form is signed for Phase 2, Army Corps employees will contact homeowners that are enrolled in the Consolidated Debris Removal Program via phone 24-48 hours in advance to provide notice of work start times. The Corps’ contractor is required to provide the Corps a formal report of completion. The Corps will provide those reports to the county, and the county will notify homeowners. A Phase 2 map, showing progress, will be published once work gets underway.

Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural Artifacts or Former Burial Sites

Does the debris contain remains? If so, how will it be managed in an appropriate and respectful manner?

While ash from Kula, Olinda and Makawao did not contain remains, ash from Lahaina may contain remains which were unidentifiable by search crews. Ash and debris from Lahaina is removed from properties under oversight by trained cultural monitors hired by USACE. The ash and debris is being transported to a temporary debris storage (TDS) site near Lahaina.

 

What if cultural artifacts or former burial sites are uncovered during the cleanup?

All debris team contractors are trained by cultural observers to be aware of any cultural, historic, and archaeological resources in Lahaina and will support efforts to protect these important resources.  USACE employs cultural observers and archaeological monitors to oversee all work during debris removal efforts.  When artifacts or former burial sites (historic properties) are found or uncovered, FEMA follows an approved Archeological Treatment Plan (ATP)  to address any inadvertent discoveries.  Cultural observers and archaeological monitors are onsite for each parcel that needs monitoring as outlined in the ATP for all stages of Phase 2 operations. 

Is it possible to deposit culturally sensitive or ash known to contain remains separately from the rest of the debris?

Remains and cultural items that are identifiable will be managed properly in coordination with the cultural monitors, however, it is very difficult to distinguish remains or other artifacts when debris materials are entirely ash.

 

What will be done to minimize impacts to the environment and any culturally significant items (i.e., petroglyphs, Iwi) at the TDS site?

The State Historic Preservation Officer and local Cultural Directors are consulted prior to debris removal. If any such areas are identified, efforts are made to avoid or conserve any cultural artifacts or areas of significance in the area. In addition, cultural monitors are onsite during debris removal activities to ensure any Iwi or artifacts that may be discovered are properly conserved or managed to respect the Native Hawaiian Rights of families.

How will the temporary debris storage (TDS) area be built to be protective of human health, wildlife, agricultural lands, marine life, and the environment?

The TDS area was built atop compacted soils and a heavy plastic (80 mil HDPE) liner underlying the ash and debris. Debris (plastic, dust) is being prevented from blowing onto adjacent lands or the ocean, and air monitors are in operation around the site. Regular supervision and maintenance is being performed to prevent leachate (liquids from the waste) from migrating or leaking from the site. All leachate is contained within a retention area underlain with the same heavy plastic liner to prevent infiltration into the soil and groundwater, which is over 100’ below the ground surface and not used as a source of drinking water. Collected leachate is reutilized within the lined TDS area to control dust in accordance with requirements and local ordinance. Surface water from rain events is diverted around the lined TDS area using specially designed drainage channels to prevent contact with the ash and debris.

What if property owners do not want potential cultural contractors (observers is the proper term) on their property, but still want their property cleaned?

Residents cannot dictate terms of service. They will have to opt out and be responsible for debris removal to the standards required.

What is being done to ensure cultural resources are protected?

Cultural monitors will be present during debris removal operations. If cultural resources are discovered during debris removal, the monitors will stop work and investigate a resolution.

Can I keep the rock walls and other cultural items on my property?

Yes. If there are items you would like to keep on your property, specify items to remain in the ROE.

You will be notified of when debris removal operations will take place.

Finding Valuables
Will residents have a chance to sort through the debris to look for any valuables?

Residents are being permitted to re-enter areas to see their properties, but ‘sifting’ is restricted due to safety considerations with the ash and the dust this may generate. USACE is meeting with individual landowners before debris removal on their properties, and the residents have the opportunity to request “eyes open” for certain valuables. Residents can take actions to minimize their exposure to contaminants in ash and dust including avoiding disruption of ash and wearing proper PPE (personal protective equipment) when in impacted areas. In addition, for people near the impacted areas, keeping surfaces clean of dust and ash and frequent handwashing will greatly reduce potential exposure, according to the Hawai’i DOH.

What if the contractor discovers valuables like money or a safe?

If the contractor discovers valuables, they should preserve them so we can return them to the property owner. Additionally, we will have quality assurance personnel onsite to monitor these situations and make positive contact with the property owner.

Debris Containment

Community Outreach for Debris Removal

Has the community been consulted about this process? Will there be a chance to comment?

Public outreach is underway to make residents aware of planning efforts to manage debris and solicit feedback, opinions, recommendations, and ideas.  This outreach is part of a community involvement plan is under development in coordination with local, state and federal partners. It will involve outreach in person (i.e., open houses, via websites and social media). Information will be made available on these opportunities at the https://www.mauirecovers.org/debrisremoval website.

Is the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) involved in the planning and process?

Yes. DOH staff from various divisions have been and continue to be involved daily in all aspects of the planning and implementation of the project.

How is the Emergency Powers Act and associated Emergency Proclamations being used to facilitate this process?

The Governor has issued several Emergency Proclamations related to the wildfires (see https://www.mauicounty.gov/2006/Declarations).  The Emergency Proclamations exempt certain permitting and regulatory requirements to facilitate the expedient recovery and community protections for victims of the wildfires. These proclamations will exempt Maui County from certain permitting requirements which would significantly delay the design, construction and use of the waste management facilities.

What is being done to minimize the potentially harmful effects of toxins in the ash / debris on human and environmental health?

The wildfire ash, dust and debris must be removed as quickly as possible and according to accepted safety standards.  The first phase of this effort, overseen by USEPA, is nearly complete.  The second phase, which is being undertaken by USACE, entails wrapping ash and debris from Lahaina in a non-permeable material, securing and covering it, and trucking it to a temporary staging area before it will be permanently stored at the proposed West Maui site.  Debris and ash from the Kula/Olinda impacted areas will be transported and disposed of at the Central Maui Landfill.  Contingency plans are in place to respond to any accidents or spillage during transport.

People can take action to minimize their exposure to these contaminants including avoiding disruption of ash and wearing proper PPE (personal protective equipment) when in impacted areas. In addition, for people near the impacted areas, keeping surfaces clean of dust and ash and frequent handwashing will greatly reduce potential exposure, according to the Hawai’i DOH.

Safety for Debris Removal

Below are relevant questions to the safety of Debris Removal

Will the workers be safe cleaning up, loading out, and transporting the ash and debris?

Workers will be using protective clothing to avoid contact or breathing in the ash. All applicable work health and safety standards will be followed.

How will it be removed and transported safely to the temporary storage areas / containment area?

Ash will be collected by hand tools (rakes and shovels), mini-excavators and front-loaders into dump trucks lined with heavy plastic, which will be sealed and tarped (aka ‘burrito wrapped’) prior to leaving the property. The trucks will follow designated routes (avoiding the Pali) to the temporary storage and/or disposal areas. Sensitive dust monitors will be in place at both the source and destination locations. Loads will be slowly dumped at the disposal areas to avoid generating dust. Dust will be controlled by water misters applying a gentle spray of water. The staging pads will be lined with heavy plastic to prevent leaks and will be covered every day to avoid drying and dust generation. US ACE will oversee all contractors involved in this process.

Will the air be monitored around the cleanup area and storage/containment areas?

Yes. Sensitive dust monitors specifically designed for this purpose will be set up each day by trained personnel during all excavation and dumping operations. The public will be able to view air monitoring data at https://fire.airnow.gov/.

Is there a risk of rainwater run-off from the ash into the ocean or other surface waters?

The best course of action to reduce ash runoff is to expedite the removal of ash from affected properties. Erosion control features called best management practices (BMPs) have been placed around storm drains to reduce discharge. USEPA soil stabilization efforts applied in Upcountry and currently underway in Lahaina primarily serve to control dust, but these efforts also help mitigate runoff. Once ash and debris reach the final disposal areas, this risk is significantly reduced by runoff control features and impermeable liners.


What about asbestos and how will it be managed?

Bulk asbestos containing material (ACM), mostly from building materials such as siding, caulk, floor tiles, and insulation will be managed along with the ash and debris carefully to avoid disturbing it and by application of a gentle water spray for dust control during collection, transport and handling in both the TDS and proposed final containment area.

Do the levels of contamination in the ash make the debris a ‘hazardous waste’?

No. From a regulatory perspective, ash and debris area considered ‘household waste,’ which is different from ‘hazardous waste’ designation and can be managed at municipal solid waste landfills, such as the Central Maui Landfill, according to federal law. Though the levels of arsenic, lead and cobalt make the ash harmful to human health (via exposure to skin or inhalation), these levels of contamination do not necessarily make the waste a ‘hazardous waste.’ A thin (1/2 – 1” thick) layer of ash will be removed along with underlying soils (6” thick layer). When this material is mixed together, it is unlikely to contain leachable levels of arsenic and lead that would classify the material as a ‘hazardous waste’ per federal regulations.

Can alternative technologies besides disposal be used to treat, recycle or beneficially use the ash/debris?

Concrete and metals, which compose of approximately 25% of the ash/debris being removed, are being separated, rinsed and sent for recovery and recycling on the island. Though alternative technologies such as pyrolysis, anaerobic digestion, or gasification continue to be developed by academia and industry, they are not considered practical for the wildfire ash/debris in Lahaina from a legal, technical or logistical perspective.  Aside from the developmental nature of these technologies (very few if any commercially viable facilities exist), the amount of space needed, siting requirements, time and cost to permit and construct, energy required, and composition of the ash/debris (which contains pieces of glass, ceramic tile, drywall and metal) make these options not viable for the wildfire debris on Maui. Also, even if these technologies were viable on Maui, there would still be a need to properly manage a substantial volume of solid byproduct (such as biochar) generated by the process, which currently have limited commercial or agricultural applications, as these products are derived from waste material.To learn more about these emerging technologies, see these reports from USEPA:

Does the ash or debris contain dioxins and/or furans at dangerous levels?

Though detectable levels of dioxins and furans were found in ash samples collected by Hawai’i DOH (see  ) they are not considered harmful to human health according to Hawai’i DOH guidance on dioxins and furans in soils found .

Dioxins do not typically exist in materials before they are incinerated.  However, when materials and waste are burned, dioxins are produced and introduced into the environment.  A large part of current exposures to dioxins in the U.S. is due to releases that occurred decades ago (e.g., pollution, fires).  Even if all human-generated dioxins were eliminated, low levels of naturally produced dioxins would remain.  More than 90% of typical human exposure is estimated by EPA to be through the intake of animal fats, mainly meat, dairy products, fish, and shellfish.  

For more information, see https://www.epa.gov/dioxin/learn-about-dioxin.

Can the ash/debris be encapsulated in a "pool" of cement like a mausoleum?

The proposed final containment area will in effect be the same as encapsulation, without the substantial amount of cement that would be required.  If ash/debris were to be encapsulated in cement, there would also be increased chances of leaching, leakage in production, mixing and solidification.

Disposal of Ash and Debris - Olowalu and Olinda

Below are the top of mind questions regarding disposal of ash and debris:

For the Kula/Olinda Ash Management Site - Central Maui Landfill

Will ash and debris be removed from public, residential and commercial areas? Has the process started yet?

Yes. Fire-related structural ash and debris will be removed from public, residential and commercial properties. Ash and debris removal efforts are expected to be completed in early January in Upcountry (Kula, Olinda, and Makawao), and are expected to begin in late January in Lahaina. This effort does not include the removal of fugitive ash from properties adjacent to properties with destroyed structures.

Is there a possibility the Temporary Debris Storage (TDS) site becomes the permanent disposal site for fire ash and debris?

No. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is constructing the TDS to temporarily stage debris until the County constructs a permanent disposal site.

Why isn’t the ash and debris being taken off the island for disposal?

For logistical, safety and environmental reasons, it would be extremely difficult. The process of staging, packaging, loading and unloading to/from ships, and loading onto trains or trucks for transport to facilities on the mainland is not feasible given existing infrastructure, both on Maui and the mainland. For example:

  • ash/debris from the West Maui TDS site would need to be excavated, loaded onto trucks (currently estimated at 40,000+ trips), and transferred to Kahului, which is a heavily populated area;
  • Kahului Harbor may need to be further dredged to accommodate entry of a ship the size needed to accommodate ash/debris shipment;
  • a temporary debris storage (TDS) area would have to be constructed immediately adjacent to the harbor, which lacks sufficient space and would pose a risk to the marine environment;
  • a large crane would need to be erected at the harbor between the TDS and the ship to load out the ash/debris;
  • the ship would require an adequate deep water port on the west coast of the mainland with adequate handling equipment (large crane) to off-load the ash/debris from the ship onto railcars for shipment;
  • the ash/debris would have to be shipped by train to licensed landfill facilities which can accept rail haul waste.

This approach would extend the timeframe for cleanup by months to years.  In addition, it would increase the overall environmental impact of the cleanup and risk of an accident or spill in transport, staging at the ports, loading and unloading immediately adjacent to the ocean.  Ash and debris would end up being disposed of in essentially the same type of location as is currently proposed in West Maui.  Finally, because the ash/debris from Lahaina may contain human remains, there is a desire for a nearby management area to keep these remains in West Maui.

For the Lahaina Ash Management Site - West Maui (Olowalu Site)

Can the ash and debris be temporarily placed in shipping containers in Lahaina while the permanent disposal site is being constructed?

This is not feasible.  The volume of ash and other fire debris equates to thousands of shipping containers which would require significant land space for temporarily storage.  For example, use of 33-cubic yard shipping containers represents over 12,000 containers and would require at least 9 acres for temporary storage and equipment movement.  Also, the fact that shipping containers are loaded from the end (i.e. not from the top) further complicates logistical challenges.

How will the ash and debris be removed and transported safely to the temporary debris storage (TDS) areas and proposed final containment areas?

Ash is collected by hand tools (rakes and shovels), mini-excavators and front-loaders into dump trucks lined with heavy plastic, which are sealed and tarped (aka ‘burrito wrapped’) prior to leaving the property to prevent any spillage or dust generation during transport. The trucks follow designated routes to the temporary debris storage (TDS) and/or proposed final containment areas.  Sensitive dust monitors are placed at both the source and destination locations.  Loads are slowly dumped out to avoid generating dust, as the plastic ‘burrito wrap’ commonly breaks open as the load is dumped out.  Dust is controlled by water misters applying a gentle spray of water. The TDS areas are lined with a heavy (80 mil) HDPE plastic liner to prevent leaks and are covered daily to avoid drying and dust generation. USACE oversees all contractors involved in this process.

Why can’t USACE just burrito wrap all the debris?

Burrito wrapping is only used to wrap debris to suppress dust while the debris is being transported from parcels to disposal site.

Is the closed Olowalu landfill being re-opened?

No. The footprint of the proposed final containment area is not connected to or part of the old landfill, which was closed in 1992. It will be located between the old, closed landfill in the cinder pit.

Has any impact from the currently closed Olowalu landfill on the reef been measured or observed? What can be learned from that experience?

To our knowledge, no impacts to the reef have been measured or observed.  The County continues to maintain and monitor the closed Olowalu Landfill.  The County conducted a 3rd party evaluation of Olowalu in 2014, and completed related construction in 2018 (surface water drainage improvements, gas system maintenance, and vegetation).

What is being done to protect the long-term health of the community and environment surrounding Olowalu? Will the West Maui site meet the requirements of federal or state landfill regulation?

While the proposed final containment area design has not yet been finalized, it will feature redundant mitigation measures, including a double liner, environmental monitoring, and other controls to protect long-term community and environmental health.  Additional information about the design and construction schedule will be provided as soon as it becomes available.

The County of Maui is not proposing to construct a RCRA hazardous waste (Subtitle C) disposal facility.  The County is fulfilling Mayor Bisson’s request to provide the safest solid waste management facility possible.  The strictest solid waste design requirements are for hazardous waste landfills, hence Subtitle C design criteria are being used as guidance for facility design.

As this area is known for very high winds that may exacerbate air and marine pollution concerns, are there mitigation methods for airborne contaminants being developed to protect the environment and community areas from the ash and debris is being disturbed, cleared, and then deposited?

Ash and debris in parts of the impacted areas have been temporarily stabilized through application of a product called SoilTac, which binds with the ash/debris to prevent it from being blown or washed away. There will be several operational environmental controls that will be used to prevent ash and debris from escaping. This includes the use of water misters to minimize dust, wrapping debris in plastic and covering loads during transport, and covering the debris at the containment area at the end of the day. Operations will be suspended during high winds. Finally, air quality monitoring will also be conducted during cleanup and disposal, and operations will be adjusted should air monitoring detect any issues.

Is this area located below the Underground Injection Control (UIC) line?

No. The site is currently being planned above a non-drinking water resource and is makai (ocean side) of the ‘Underground Injection Control (UIC)’ zone designated by the State. The boundary between non-drinking water aquifers and underground sources of drinking water is generally referred to as the “UIC Line”.  Restrictions on wells differ, depending on whether the area is inland (mauka) or seaward (makai) of the UIC line.

What are the other benefits of this containment area?

Being close to Lahaina, the exhaust emissions and risks to drivers on the Pali of tens of thousands of trucks will be greatly reduced.  In addition, clean fill displaced to build the TDS and final containment area can be hauled back to the properties for backfilling on excavated parcels.

Can USACE use the same design/construction for the TDS area that is proposed for the final containment area?

The engineering controls to be used on the proposed final containment area are not necessary at the TDS as it will not be installed below grade, all run-off will be controlled, and this area is temporary in nature. The TDS design is typical for temporary containment and does not require the double liner system or groundwater/gas monitoring systems.

Toxins in Ash & Risks of Transport and disposal

Is the ash toxic (DOH results from testing showed arsenic, lead, antimony, copper, and cobalt)?

The Hawai’i Department of Health (DOH), Hazardous Evaluation and Emergency Response (HEER) Office, collected samples for laboratory analysis of just the ash from parcels in Kula, Olinda and Lahaina.  DOH’s ash characterization testing screened for heavy metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), residual range organics, dioxins and furans, per- and polyfluorinated substances, flame retardants such as polybrominated diphenyl esters and organophosphates esters, asbestos, and organochlorine pesticides.

These results found elevated levels of arsenic, lead, antimony, copper and cobalt at levels determined by health agencies to be potentially harmful to humans in direct contact with it. This is why it needs to be collected and removed from the ground as soon as possible to reduce the risk of rainwater run-off or wind erosion. The ash sampling results, along with safety recommendations can be found .

Considering recently released data from Kula fires showing the high levels of several toxins within the ash, are any heightened protective containment measures or methods being designed for transport as well as at the site of final disposition? Has the County engaged toxicity experts to help understand heightened risks of transport and disposal?

Yes.  Maui County is working closely with experts from Hawai’i DOH, USACE and USEPA to manage hazards to the greatest extent possible.  Maui County, USACE and FEMA are committed to ensure the minimum possible exposure to public and environment.  

Although municipal landfill liner requirements were developed to safely contain a wide range of residential and commercial wastes, Maui County is planning to build the proposed final containment area to exceed these standards by constructing two liners on the bottom of the containment area with a leachate (liquid from the waste) collection system at the uppermost liner and leak detection in between the two liners. The liner system is like those used in construction of hazardous waste landfills and is considered to be more than adequate to contain the contaminants (primarily heavy metals) in the ash/debris and prevent contamination to groundwater and the ocean.

USEPA is conducting a review of the design plan(s) for the site with respect to the proposed liner system to ensure that it is sufficient to contain Lahaina wildfire debris, the adequacy of Seismic Stability Analysis, and the Groundwater Monitoring Plan/Groundwater Protection Plan.

Where did these contaminants come from?

Source: Hawai’i DOH:

Antimony is naturally present in soils. The general population is exposed to low levels of antimony from ingestion of food and drinking water and possibly by inhalation of particulate matter containing antimony in ambient air.

Arsenic is a heavy metal found in soils in Hawaii due to volcanic soils and its use as an herbicide in the early 1900s. It is also found in building materials made of sugar cane (Canec) and wood treated for termite control (CCA treated wood). Arsenic can also be found in food such as rice, meats, fish and seaweed and has also been found to be naturally occurring in well water around the world. Long-term, environmental exposure to arsenic can cause skin problems, heart problems and cancers of the skin, bladder and lungs.

Cobalt is a naturally occurring element that is essential for certain functions of the body including the generation of red blood cells. People are exposed to small amounts of cobalt in food, industrial air pollution, and many cosmetics. However, when people are exposed to excessive amounts of cobalt, it can cause problems with the blood, lungs and skin. Cobalt may also cause cancer with extreme exposures.

Copper is a chemical element and essential trace mineral that is a reddish metal which occurs naturally in rock, soil, sediment, water, and at low levels, air.

Lead is a heavy metal that is expected to be present in ash due its use in paint on houses built before 1978. Lead is particularly toxic for young children and babies in utero as it hinders the development of the brain. Babies and children exposed to lead have trouble with learning, school performance, attention, and other neurocognitive problems.

Considering recently released data showing elevated levels of heavy metals in the ash, are any heightened protective containment measures or methods being designed for transport as well as at the site of final disposition? Has Maui County engaged toxicity experts to help understand heightened risks of transport and disposal?

Yes.  Maui County has engaged and contracted with several industry experts and is working closely with Hawai’i DOH, USACE and USEPA to manage hazards to the greatest extent possible.  Maui County, USACE and FEMA are committed to ensure the minimum possible exposure to public and environment.  

Although municipal landfill liner requirements were developed to safely contain a wide range of residential and commercial wastes, Maui County is planning to build the disposal unit to exceed these standards by constructing two liners on the bottom of the containment area with a leachate (liquid from the waste) collection system at the uppermost liner and leak detection in between the two liners. 

US EPA is conducting a 3rd party review of the design plan(s) for the site with respect to the proposed liner system to ensure that it is sufficient to contain Lahaina wildfire debris, the adequacy of Seismic Stability Analysis, and the Groundwater Monitoring Plan/Groundwater Protection Plan. 

People can take action to minimize their exposure to these contaminants including avoiding disruption of ash and wearing proper PPE (personal protective equipment) when in impacted areas. In addition, for people near the impacted areas, keeping surfaces clean of dust and ash and frequent handwashing will greatly reduce potential exposure, according to the Hawai’i DOH.

What are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spraying onto the debris?

Soiltac is being sprayed onto the debris to help hold the ash in place and keep dust and ash from blowing around. It is a clear hydroseed type material that is biodegradable.

Protect the Environment

  • Crews will be conducting dust suppression (spraying down debris), air monitoring, and debris wrapping will take place during debris removal operations.
  • Best Management Practices (BMP) have been installed for waterways to catch pollutants before it reaches any watersheds.

After Debris Removal

Does the resident sign anything when the work is complete?

USACE doesn’t have a requirement for the resident to sign anything post-debris removal this step is the responsibility of the county. We just need a signed right-of-entry before phase 2 can occur. The owner will work with the county when debris removal is fully complete and then the ROE will be nullified.

Once the property is cleared will there be an expedited process to permit the rebuild?

This is a county question also. Once USACE has cleared the property, we return the ROE back to the county. They will establish any expedited permitting requirements since it’s their jurisdiction.

What is the expected number of properties that will be cleared (mission estimate?)

2,456 properties were burned, however, not all were destroyed.

When is the resident permitted to occupy their property and improve it after the PPDR is done?

USACE doesn’t prevent the owner from visiting their property. Once USACE completes debris removal, we will turn over the right-of-entry to the county. The property owner should coordinate any occupancy and improvement requirements with the county.

What will be done with retaining walls if they are on a property line and one person completed an ROE but the other property owner did not?

If the wall impedes debris removal process it will be removed. Also, this may need to be coordinated amongst property owners for which this retaining wall would impact, if eligible and not structurally required to remain onsite.

Owner Funded Clean up (Alternative Program)

Is participation in both Phase 1 and 2 of the debris removal process mandatory?

Yes, fire-impacted properties with eligible debris are required to complete both Phase 1 and 2 of the program.

For Phase 1, all properties are required to have hazardous materials and waste removed. These items can be hazardous and require special handling and disposal. The EPA will complete this process for all fire-impacted properties. Phase 1 of the Program is being conducted at no cost to property owners.

Phase 2 debris removal by the Corps is optional; however, properties that opt out of this option are still required to provide for the timely removal of hazardous debris fields, and deadlines will be set by the County. Removal by a private contractor is authorized but must be done at the homeowner’s expense, and work done must meet or exceed the standards set by local, state and federal agencies. This includes compliance with all legal requirements for handling, disposal at authorized disposal sites, soil sampling and transportation. In addition, best management practices must be utilized along with work activity documentation and erosion control. 

Are there other programs that can help with debris clean-up?

Some volunteer organizations can assist with tasks for reentry, however, it is not anticipated that VOADS will play a role in the USACE Debris Removal Program.

Do people have to take advantage of the Government-sponsored Consolidated Debris Removal Program? If they choose not to, what should they do?

This issue is currently before Maui County Council. Opt-out forms were required in previous events; however, Maui County is still in development of their opt-out procedures and Alternate Debris Removal Program standards. The county will require self-performed debris removal to comply with all legal requirements including compliance with use of appropriate disposal sites, best management practices, proper testing, erosion control, cultural monitoring, etc.

Can survivors select their own contractor through Consolidated Debris Removal Program?

No. We cannot in any way direct the means and methods the contractors use to include which crew does what. There will be a Native Hawaiian specifically Lahaina cultural monitor on the site to oversee the work being done.

Can’t find what you are looking for and want to speak to a representative?

Please contact the State of Hawaii Maui Disaster Relief Call Center:

Contact the Call Center at 808-727-1550


Open 7AM – 7PM daily Monday thru Saturday

Or email us at support@mauirecovers.org