Hilton begins Kalia Tower mold removal
Dick Pacific is hired to cart off furnishings and room appliances
By Tim Ruel, Star Bulletin
Thursday, September 12, 2002
Hilton Hawaiian Village said it has hired general contractor Dick Pacific Construction to remove furniture, wallpaper, carpeting, drapes and other items from rooms in the mold-infested Kalia Tower in Waikiki. The move is part of Hilton’s estimated $10 million effort to remove mold from the 453-room guest tower, Hilton said. Dick Pacific’s contract was signed yesterday. Work will begin shortly and last for approximately six to eight weeks. Hilton will also remove appliances from the rooms, including radios and televisions, and the hotel will decide later whether to keep the items. “While it would be nice to salvage some of these goods and perhaps find other uses for them, proper disposal is the sensible and responsible action to take,” said Peter Schall, managing director of Hilton Hawaiian Village. The mold saga at Hilton began in June, when upper management said it learned of a pattern of excessive mold found by housekeepers in Kalia rooms. Hilton attempted to clean the mold, but it didn’t work. In late July, the hotel vacated guests from all rooms in the Kalia tower, and went public with the problem. Dick Pacific will manage the cleanup and work with certified subcontractors, Hilton said. A Dick Pacific official declined comment. Workers will wrap each room’s furniture in plastic, then remove the items from the tower floors on a freight elevator, said George Hayward, spokesman for Hilton. The material will end up in landfills or incinerators, and all disposal activities will abide by environmental regulations, he said. Hilton has identified high humidity as being responsible for the mold growth in Kalia Tower. The tower, Waikiki’s only new hotel construction in several years, opened in May 2001 at a cost of $95 million. The general contractor was Dick Pacific’s competitor Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co. Hilton is theorizing about the causes of the humidity, and doesn’t want to comment on its theories, Hayward said. The cause of the moisture may be a significant factor in deciding who will pay to fix the tower, he added. Seven years ago, the U.S. Army hired consultants to clean mold from Hale Koa Hotel, next door to Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Similar to Hilton Hawaiian Village, mold had infested a newly built hotel guest tower. The cleanup cost $5.5 million, and the Army reached a settlement with the tower’s designers and builders, which included Hawaiian Dredging. Hilton Hawaiian Village, including the Kalia Tower, is Waikiki’s largest hotel, with 3,432 rooms. Fourteen Hilton workers have reported health symptoms that were caused by exposure to mold in the tower, according to a survey paid for by Hilton. Symptoms included skin rashes, worsening of asthma and irritation of the eye, throat and nose. The survey found no evidence that the mold caused allergic respiratory illness. At the same time Hilton vacated guests from the Kalia Tower, the hotel disclosed it had also found mold in corridors in its 264-unit Lagoon Tower. Hilton has painted the Lagoon Tower mold with fungicide as a temporary fix.