Improper Seal in Honolulu Municipal Building May Have Inadvertently Exposed Public and Politicians to Asbestos

Renovations at Honolulu Hale may be responsible for exposing the public and some politicians to asbestos.  The Honolulu Hale, which was previously known as the Honolulu Municipal Building, serves as the official seat of the government of city and county.  It also contains the City Council Chamber and the chambers of the Mayor of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell.

The Asbestos Leak

According to KHON2, some sources mentioned that the asbestos “should have been fixed years ago,” but the latest scare may be the impetus the councilmembers need to put a plan in motion to see it happen.  The third floor of the Honolulu Hale started to undergo renovations in mid-March, and many involved with the construction were wary of asbestos because of the fact that the building was more than 80 years old and it is common for walls and tiles to be disturbed during such a large renovation project.

The main concern about the leak stems from a door leading to the offices of staff members.  Some believe that the door may not have been properly sealed when construction was initiated, and that asbestos could possibly leak into the offices of the staff and also expose the public.

Reactions

Some councilmembers are questioning the decision to initiate renovations.  Councilmember Stanley Chang remarked that “We absolutely should not be finishing the renovation leaving the public health and safety in danger.”

Another councilmember, Ann Kobayashi, has raised concerns about the building’s asbestos danger for more than a decade.  She even allocated $14 million in the budget to fix the problem in 2003, but expressed her disappointment that nothing was ever done.  She believed that the “administration used the money to clean up some other areas,” and failed to “clean up the city council areas.”

Kobayashi also highlighted the fact that the building is frequented by members of the public when they visit to testify, and many school children go on tours of the building due to its historical significance.

Next steps

Kobayashi is urging the council to get another estimate to begin actually addressing the asbestos problem in the building.  When asked if she believed that the city had enough money to remedy the problem, she declared that “when it comes to health and safety we’re gonna have to do it because it’s not just our health and safety it’s all the members of the public.”

A city spokesman has assured the public that the council has taken procedures to limit exposure.  The original price tag for the proposed renovation was $21,000, yet it is unclear if that number will stay the same with the new knowledge of asbestos content coming into the public light.

Exposed to asbestos?

Asbestos is a highly dangerous substance that has been known to cause many serious – and sometimes fatal – health conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.  If you have been exposed to asbestos, you may be eligible for compensation.  Contact an experienced asbestos attorney today to discuss your options.

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