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Contact Pacific Southwest Brownfields

Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Land Revitalization in Hawai´i

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.


Underground Storage Tanks


Federal Facilites




Noemi Emeric-Ford
(213) 244-1821

Photo of:

Burrito site

Photo of:

Soil removal at Hilo Burrito site

Hilo Burrito
Hilo, Big Island



In 1960, a tsunami made landfall near the coastline town of Hilo, Hawai´i, destroying countless homes and businesses including portions of Hilo Gas Company's gas manufacturing plant. The State of Hawai´i assumed control over the Hilo coastline property most affected by the tsunami, and converted the parcel into the Hilo Bayfront Recreation Area to serve as a "tsunami buffer zone" to shield downtown Hilo from future flooding. Construction adjacent to the site in 1997 revealed the soil underlying the site was found to be contaminated with Poly Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and sulfide compounds stemming largely from Hilo Gas Company's former activity on-site. In response, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) encapsulated and removed the contaminated soil in a plastic liner resembling a "burrito." The burrito was left in a Temporary Storage Area near the site until 2003 when EPA was requested by HDOH to remove the contaminated soil collected both in the burrito and from a smaller portion of the site.


In 2004, EPA worked with the HDOH, USACE, and the County of Hawai´i to remove the extracted soil encapsulated in the burrito and the additional soil from the second portion of the site. EPA also worked to re-grade the side of a levee damaged by the weight of the burrito to maintain proper slope for flood control. Further, EPA worked with the HDOH to remove contaminants from a flood control pond located in close proximity to the site. Approximately 7,900 tons of PAH contaminated soil/waste was removed from the burrito site and transported to a landfill equipped to receive CERCLA waste.

Reuse Facts

  • 8 acre site revitalized to serve as part of the Hilo Bayfront Recreation Area
  • Site includes 2 community soccer fields

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