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PUBLIC HEALTH ASSESSMENT

DEL MONTE CORPORATION
(OAHU PLANTATION)
KUNIA, HONOLULU COUNTY, HAWAII

SUMMARY

The Del Monte Oahu Plantation (now owned by Del Monte Fresh Produce [Hawaii] Inc.)occupies 6,000 acres in Honolulu County, Hawaii. The small village of Kunia is located on theplantation and is the residence for 65 percent of Del Monte's full time employees.

Before 1980, drinking water for Kunia came from one well. In 1979 and 1980, this well wassampled by the Hawaii Department of Health because 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP) wasdiscovered in California drinking water wells near fumigated farmland. DBCP had been usednear the Kunia well (United States Geological Survey [USGS] number 2703-01). The analyticalresults of the samples taken from the Kunia well indicated that the well water was contaminatedwith ethylene dibromide (EDB) and DBCP. Because the Kunia well was demonstrated to becontaminated with EDB and DBCP, Del Monte Corporation disconnected the Kunia well fromthe Kunia drinking water distribution system on April 25, 1980. Since then, drinking water forKunia has come from two wells (i.e., the Navy Well Number 3 [USGS number 2803-05] andField Well Number 4 [USGS number 2803-07) which have been demonstrated to be free of EDBand DBCP.

Eighteen community members attended the public availability meetings the Agency for ToxicSubstances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) sponsored in Wahiawa on January 25 and 26, 1994. At those meetings, several community members raised general concerns about long-term healtheffects related to exposure to contaminants on the site. They were particularly concerned about the effects on the health of children and fetuses. In addition, community members telephoned ATSDR staff members to express concerns about reproductive effects in men exposed to thefumigants. One individual asked ATSDR whether arsenic poisoning could be associated with theDel Monte Oahu Plantation National Priorities List (NPL) site.

Based on the available information, ATSDR concludes that the people of Kunia were notexposed to significant levels of EDB and DBCP in their drinking water. Therefore, we do notanticipate that the people who drank the Kunia well water will have any adverse health effects. In accordance with the ATSDR Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual, ATSDR hasclassified the Del Monte Oahu Plantation NPL site as a "No Apparent Public Health Hazard" forpast and current conditions.

Analytical results of samples taken from the Kunia Well, Navy Well Number 3, and Field WellNumber 4 indicate that the well water does not contain arsenic above levels that could haveresulted in arsenic poisoning. The analytical results did not find arsenic in these wells above thesafe drinking water standard of 50 micrograms of arsenic per liter of water. Therefore, it isunlikely someone would have gotten arsenic poisoning as a result of the drinking water supply atKunia.

The total extent of groundwater contamination originating from the Del Monte Oahu PlantationNPL site has not been determined. Therefore, it is not possible for ATSDR to determine whethersite-related contaminants can migrate into drinking water wells downgradient at levels of publichealth concern from the Del Monte Oahu Plantation NPL site. In accordance with the ATSDRPublic Health Assessment Guidance Manual, ATSDR has classified the Del Monte OahuPlantation NPL site as an "Indeterminate Public Health Hazard" for future conditions.

ATSDR recommends that: 1) the total extent of groundwater contamination in the upper andWaipahu Basal aquifers should be determined; 2) in addition to EDB and DBCP, environmentalsamples from the Del Monte Oahu Plantation NPL site should also be analyzed for the otherpesticides used at the Del Monte Oahu Plantation and for the U.S. Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) Target Compound List.; and 3) the appropriate quality assurance and qualitycontrol procedures should be conducted for any future environmental sampling at the Del MonteOahu Plantation NPL site.

BACKGROUND

A. Site Description And History

The Del Monte Oahu Plantation (now owned by Del Monte Fresh Produce [Hawaii] Inc.)occupies 6,000 acres in Honolulu County, Hawaii. The small village of Kunia is located on theplantation and is the residence for 65 percent of Del Monte's full-time employees. The plantationis on the coastal plain of the island of Oahu. The area surrounding the plantation is usedprimarily for agricultural (pineapple and sugar cane) and military (Schofield Barracks, WheelerAir Force Base, and Naval Radio Station) purposes (1).

Pineapples have been cultivated on the plantation since the 1940s. Growing pineapples involvesthe use of fumigants (pesticides) to control nematodes (worms) that infest pineapples. When afield is prepared for planting, the pesticide is injected into the soil to a depth between 4 and 14inches. Fields are fumigated just before the field is replanted with pineapples (approximatelyonce every three years) (1).

Before 1981, the pesticides were diluted with diesel fuel, paint thinner, or "white gas." Most ofthe mixing and storage of pesticides and dilution fluids occurred at the mixing or Drum StorageAreas (Source # 1) near the Kunia well (United States Geological Survey [USGS] number 2703-01) (see Appendix 1, Figure 1). An unknown amount of spillage occurred during the mixingoperations. The mixed fluids were transported by a transport vehicle from the mixing areas tothe field and then transferred to an application tractor (1).

The principal pesticides used at the Del Monte Oahu Plantation from 1940 to present are Telone(100 percent 1,3-dichloropropene), Telone II (92 percent 1,3-dichloropropene), ethylenedibromide (EDB), DD (a mixture of 1,3-dichloropropene and 1,2-dichloropropane) andChloropicrin (trichloronitromethane). Prior to the mid-1940s, Chloropicrin was the primarypesticide. From the mid-1940s until 1983, EDB was used to fumigate pineapple field soils. Occasionally, during certain years, more acreage was treated with DD than with EDB. This wastrue especially in the 1960s. According to Del Monte, 1,2-dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP)was used on the Oahu plantation on a limited and experimental basis. DBCP might have been atrace contaminant of EDB (1).

Pesticides have been shipped to the Del Monte Oahu Plantation both in bulk and in smaller 30-gallon and 55-gallon drums. Before 1975, the drums were stored near the Kunia well at the"Drum Storage Area." After 1975, EDB was received in bulk shipments (tanker trucks) andstored in a 25,000-gallon aboveground storage tank. This tank was located within 100 feet of theKunia well (1).

On April 7, 1977, 495 gallons of EDB spilled onto bare ground (within 60 feet of the Kunia well)while the pesticide was being transferred from a tanker truck to the 25,000-gallon abovegroundstorage tank. On April 15, the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) was informed of the spill. HDOH sampled the Kunia well to determine whether the EDB spill had contaminated the well. The analysis of the April 15 well water sample indicated that EDB was not present in the wellwater above the analytical detection limit of 0.5 micrograms of EDB per liter of water (µg/L) (0.5parts per billion [ppb]) (1).

Because DBCP was found in California drinking water wells near fumigated farmland, HDOH in1979 sampled various Oahu wells located near land treated with the same fumigants. Theanalytical results of the sample from the Kunia well were unclear. Therefore, samples were takenfrom the Kunia well again on April 14, 1980. The analytical results of these samples showedEDB levels of 92 µg/L and DBCP levels of 11 µg/L. The Kunia well was resampled on April 24, 1980. The analytical results confirmed that the well was contaminated with EDB (300 µg/L) and DBCP (0.5 µg/L). Because the Kunia well was demonstrated to be contaminated with EDB andDBCP, Del Monte Corporation disconnected the Kunia well from the Kunia drinking water distribution system on April 25, 1980. Since then, drinking water for Kunia has come from two wells (i.e., the Navy Well Number 3 [USGS number 2803-05] and Field Well Number 4 [USGS number 2803-07]) that have been demonstrated to be free of EDB and DBCP (1).

Since the discovery of the Kunia well contamination, Del Monte Corporation and its successors(there have been three changes of plantation ownership) have conducted various remedialactivities:

  1. Relocation and construction of a new aboveground pesticide storage facility with complete spill containment occurred in 1981.
  2. Investigations into the extent of the soil and groundwater contamination took place in 1980 to 1983.
  3. Excavation and removal of approximately 18,000 tons of contaminated soil occurred from 1981 to 1983. See Appendix 1, Figure 1 for location of the excavation areas (i.e., shaded areas). Thin layers of the excavated-contaminated soil were spread on the pineapple field. Three groundwater extraction wells were installed in the upper groundwater aquifer in 1981 and are still in operation. The Kunia well has been operating since 1981 to remove contaminants in the Waipahu Basal aquifer.
  4. The University of Hawaii conducted epidemiologic investigations to determine whether thegroundwater contamination affected the Kunia residents' health (1).

The Kunia well was pumped a minimum of twice per week for 8 hours per day. The water is sprinkled on a grass-covered area. The three upper aquifer extraction wells were pumped once every 2 weeks or whenever enough groundwater flows into the wells. The only upper aquifer extraction well that has consistently yielded groundwater is well number 9X. The water from these wells is used to control road dust (1). The pumping of these wells were discontinued because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested that land spreading of the contaminated water stop. EPA believes this activity may violate the Resource, Conservation, and Recovery Act which expressly prohibits the use of material which has been mixed with any hazardous waste for dust suppression.

On May 10, 1993, the EPA proposed that the Del Monte Corporation Oahu Plantation be listedon the National Priorities List (NPL) (a.k.a., "Superfund") (1). On December 16, 1994, the Del Monte Corporation Oahu Plantation was officially placed on the NPL (2).

B. Site Visit

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) staff members Sven E. Rodenbeckand Stephanie Prausnitz from the Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, SuperfundSite Assessment Branch, and William Q. Nelson and Gwendolyn B. Eng from the ATSDRRegion IX Office conducted a site visit on January 24 - 26, 1994. The site visit was conducted tocollect information needed for the public health assessment for the Del Monte Corporation OahuPlantation NPL Site (Update 14). Public availability sessions were held on January 25 and 26. In addition, meetings were held with HDOH and Del Monte Fresh Produce (Hawaii) Inc.

The following observations were made during the site visit:

- All that remains at the areas of soil contamination is a 60-foot deep pit. The pit is surroundedby a 6-foot fence, and the gate is normally locked. No standing water was seen in the pit. However, standing water has been observed in the pit by EPA.
- Del Monte Fresh Produce (Hawaii) Inc. is continuing to pump the contaminated groundwaterout of the upper and Waipahu Basal aquifers. The groundwater is sprayed onto a field which isnot used for pineapple cultivation. The Waipahu Basal Aquifer is a section of the larger PearlHarbor Aquifer, which is a major source of drinking water for the Island of Oahu.

During the Public Comment Period for this public health assessment, members staff Sven E.Rodenbeck and Gwendolyn B. Eng held two Public Availability Sessions on December 11 and12, 1994. The Availability Sessions permitted individuals to discuss the public healthassessment with ATSDR in private. ATSDR also conducted a Public Meeting on December 12,1994. The meeting permitted the public to discuss the public health assessment in an openforum. Comments concerning this public health assessment were submitted in writing by oneindividual. The comments along with ATSDR's responses are summarized in Appendix 3.

C. Demographics, Land Use, And Natural Resource Use

1. Demographics

The population of Kunia was 738 in 1980 (3). Approximately 75% of the people who lived inKunia were of Filipino descent (3). Approximately 10% of the people who lived in Kunia weredescended from native Hawaiian, 5% were descended from Japanese, and 1% were descendedfrom Europeans; the remaining 9% were of other descent (4). The 1980 age distribution of theKunia population was 0 to 16 years of age, 30%; 17 to 44 years of age, 38%; 45 to 64 years ofage, 27%; and 65 to 99 years of age, 5%. The average household size was slightly more thanfour inhabitants; the median income of the residents was $15,000 to $20,000 (3). Kuniaresidents had a median education of 12 years (3).

2. Land Use

The land surrounding the NPL site is used by Del Monte Fresh Produce (Hawaii), Inc. to growpineapple. The plantation occupies 6,000 acres.

Wahiawa, Wheeler Air Force Base, and Schofield Barracks are approximately 2 miles north ofthe NPL site. The Naval Radio Station is about 4 miles east of the site. The Hawaii CountryClub is approximately 1.5 miles.

3. Natural Resources

As indicated in Appendix 1, Figure 1, an intermittent creek is located less than 100 feet from the Drum Storage Area. This creek drains a significant part of the plantation. The unnamed creekdrains to Poliwai Gulch and empties into Waikele Stream, approximately 4 miles from the NPLsite. No fishing or recreational activities are conducted in the unnamed stream.

Three types of groundwater aquifers provide drinking water for the island of Oahu: basalaquifers, dike aquifers, and perched aquifers. The deep basal aquifers provide much of thedrinking water and only a fraction of the irrigation water.

Before 1980, drinking water for Kunia came from one well (see Appendix 1, Figure 1). This well tapped the Waipahu Basal Aquifer (more than 800 feet below the surface). Since April,1980, drinking water for Kunia has come from two wells (i.e., Navy Well Number 3 and FieldWell Number 4), 1 mile north of Kunia. Both wells tap a different groundwater aquifer (i.e.,Wahiawa High-Level Aquifer) than the Kunia well.

D. Health Outcome Data

The State of Hawaii maintains a Health Surveillance Program, which records demographic andhealth-oriented information based on interviews at randomly selected households throughout thestate; this information has been collected since 1969 (3). In addition, the state maintains vital statistics databases (e.g., birth and death certificates) and a tumor (cancer) registry.

Following the 1980 discovery of EDB in the Kunia well, several investigators performed independent health studies to examine whether Kunia residents' health was affected. ATSDR staff identified the following studies:

  • Health Assessment of a Community with Pesticide Contaminated Drinking Water: Part I. Household Health Interview Survey (3),
  • Health Assessment of a Community with Pesticide Contaminated Drinking Water: Part II. Incidence of Malignant Neoplasms (5),
  • Health Assessment of Infants and Children Exposed to Water Contaminated with DBCP and EDB (6),
  • Kunia Study: Phase I Medical Records Survey of Kunia and Poamoho Populations (final draft) (4),
  • Kunia Study: Phase II Pregnancy Wastage (final draft) (7),
  • Kunia Study: Assessment of Chromosome Damage by Environmental Exposure to DBCP and EDB (8), and
  • Assessment of Effects on Fertility in a Population Exposed to EDB and DBCP (9).

Health outcome data, including the various studies, are discussed in the Health Outcome Data Evaluation section of this public health assessment.

COMMUNITY HEALTH CONCERNS

Eighteen community members attended the ATSDR-sponsored public availability meetings inWahiawa on January 25 and 26, 1994. At those meetings, several community members raisedgeneral concerns about long-term health effects related to exposure to contaminants on the site. They were particularly concerned about the effects on the health of children and fetuses. Inaddition, community members telephoned ATSDR staff members to express concerns aboutreproductive effects in men exposed to the fumigants. One individual asked ATSDR whetherarsenic poisoning could be associated with the NPL site. The concerns reported here areaddressed in the Community Health Concerns Evaluation section of this public healthassessment.

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