Grand jury indicts 2 men, company in Waikele bunker explosion

Published On: Sep 28 2012 10:25:01 AM HST
Updated On: Sep 28 2012 06:34:54 PM HST

Word on an indictment against the company allegedly responsible for the Waikele bunker explosion and five men's deaths.

HONOLULU -

A federal grand jury in Honolulu returned a 21-count indictment Thursday against Charles Donaldson, age 37, of Kaneohe, Carlton Finley, age 65, of Honolulu, and Donaldson Enterprises, Incorporated, a Hawaii corporation, with conspiring to treat hazardous wastes without a permit, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The grand jury also charged Donaldson, Finley and DEI with 20 substantive counts of treating hazardous wastes without a permit.

Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to the indictment, DEI entered into a contract with another company and rented a storage bunker at Waikele to store commercial grade fireworks that had been seized by federallaw enforcement.

Upon notification that commercial grade fireworks, which were initially stored as evidence, but were no longer needed as evidence, DEI was required to manage and dispose of these "now discarded" commercial grade fireworks as hazardous wastes.

DEI initially obtained a temporary emergency permit from the State of Hawaii's Department of Health, which allowed DEI to transport the discarded commercial grade fireworks to the Koko Head Firing Range in Honolulu for burning.

DEI's temporary emergency permit expired on Sept. 5,2010.  The indictment further alleges that between Sept. 8, 2010, and April 8, 2011,Donaldson, Finley, and DEI caused DEI employees to treat hazardous wastes at the Waikele bunker, through the dismantling of the discarded commercial grade fireworks by breaking apart or cutting open the fireworks and/or soaking them in diesel fuel.

According to the indictment, breaking apart and/or soaking the discarded commercial grade fireworks in diesel fuel constituted "treatment" of a hazardous waste -- an activity that must first be permitted by the health department.

The indictment alleges that on April 8, 2011, while DEI employees were engaged in the unpermitted treatment of hazardous wastes, an explosion occurred at DEI's Waikele bunker killing DEIe mployees Bryan Cabalce, Robert Freeman, Robert Leahey, Justin Kelii and Neil Sprankle.

This case was investigated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Sorenson is handling the prosecution.

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