Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started work to drain an underground parking garage located on Front Street in Lahaina that has remained flooded since the fire of August 8th. Initially, the questionable structural integrity of the parking structure combined with the concern for possible hazardous materials in the water prevented a comprehensive search by the Maui Police Department. Through the collaborative efforts of the EPA, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, FEMA, and the County of Maui, removing the standing water and conducting a safe and thorough search will be performed. Pumping will occur at night during low tide when water levels in the garage are lower.
Once the Maui Police Department is able to complete a search, EPA will conduct an assessment to identify and remove hazardous materials. EPA has consulted and coordinated with the County of Maui, cultural monitors, and FEMA on this operation.
“A water diversion system that kept the garage dry failed during the wildfire,” said EPA Incident Commander Tara Fitzgerald. “We are working closely with the County of Maui to safely drain the flooded garage and clear remaining hazardous materials.”
Water sampling shows that the water in the flooded garage is similar to surface runoff from driveways, streets, and parking garages. EPA will pump the estimated 400,000 – 600,000 gallons of water to an existing empty stormwater detention basin in Lahaina to allow workers to access the garage and continue pumping water until operations are completed, or the detention basin reaches capacity. The detention basin is located just north of the West Maui Skate Park and has a two-million-gallon capacity.
# # #