Forest Housing Property Management aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe is dealing with a class action lawsuit from residents who lived in their privatized housing.
Forest City Enterprises, based in Cleveland, received the contract from the U.S. Navy in 2004 to increase the amount of on-base military housing. Its partnership, Ohana Military Communities LLC, received a generous 50-year contract to renovate and update thousands of existing homes and apartments at MCBH while operating as the property manager for the life of the contract worth billions of dollars.
The lawsuit alleges the company failed to properly manage the contaminated soil under and around the foundations while the homes which were either demolished and replaced between 2006 and the present. The company has also been accused of not informing neighbors living in and around the construction zone of potential health dangers.
Several soil tests were conducted with hundreds of hot spots discovered in 2006 and 2007, contaminated with insecticides and pesticides present above environmental “action levels” which included chlordane, heptachlor, aldrin, dieldrin, and endrin – levels more than 20 times higher than the EPA determines safe.
Most of the chemicals are known or probable carcinogens. These products are discontinued in general use, but were originally used to protect the foundations of the homes against ground termites and other pests.
When the soil was disturbed during the construction period, residents came into contact with the soil residue through inhalation, ingestion, or direct contamination from working directly with the soil while planting flowers or gardening in or around their homes.
The four named plaintiffs who originally brought the lawsuit are four military spouses of current or former military personnel who lived in the privatized base housing. The lawsuit has now been approved as a class-action lawsuit of at least 8,632 former and current military service members and their families.
The problem was discovered when military spouses noticed their children became frequently sick, believing the source came from mold issues in the older homes, or something contaminated in the blowing dust from the demolition and construction of new buildings.
According to Military Families Deserve Safe Housing website, “Forest City even told all those who complained that they were the only one to have ever expressed such concerns. It wasn’t until recently, through the magic of social media, that these former and current residents were able to connect and share their housing nightmares and the health effects their families and pets suffered with one another.”
The MFDSH site also refers to safety requirements provided in Forest City’s PSMP that
“no visible demolition dust emissions” should be seen beyond their demolition project sites. It also stipulated that residents must be informed about this strict “no visible demolition dust emissions” requirement” which never happened.
To discover more information or connect with people involved in the lawsuit, please visit this Facebook page.