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HELCO, Other Big Island Companies Fined For Pollution

Posted January 24, 2013, 12:57 PM HST
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Hawaii Electric Light Co. File photo.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is paying $33,600 in fines for violating terms of its permits regarding air pollution in connection with the operation of the company’s Keahole generating plant in Kona.

The Clean Air Branch of the state Department of Health today said the Big Island utility was among 16 companies across the state cited last year for air permit and pollution violations that occurred between March 2011 and May 2012.

HELCO was cited for exceeding the three-hour average emission limit for ammonia in March 2011 for CT-4, one of its combustion turbine generators at the Keahole facility. The DOH said HELCO was also cited for exceeding visible emission limits on CT-4 and CT-5, another Keahole generator, in April and November 2011.

The health department said HELCO self-reported the violations to state regulators. It has already paid a penalty of $25,600 and a consent order is being drawn up for the payment of an additional $8,000 in fines.

Other Big Island companies cited included:

  • Edwin Deluz Trucking and Gravel, LLC, for failing to conduct the 2010 annual performance tests on its diesel engine generator and on its stone-quarrying plant at the Kapoaula Quarry in Hamakua. The violations were discovered by the DOH during an annual inspection and a penalty of $8,000 was assessed.  Additional information provided to the department will result in a consent order reducing the fine to $5,000.
  • Koga Engineering & Construction, Inc., which paid a penalty of $2,400 for failing to submit a timely semi-annual report regarding its rock-crushing operations.
  • Tradewinds Forest Products, LLC, which paid penalty of $1,600 for late submission of various reports required by its air permit. The company has a boiler and veneer dryer in Ookala on the Hamakua coast.

The DOH said a total of $79,700 in penalties was imposed statewide. Of that, $63,700 has been paid with the balance still awaiting negotiations or pending payments.

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The fines assessed against HELCO and Edwin Deluz Trucking and Gravel were the largest among the 16 companies that were penalized.

The Clean Air Branch’s role is to protect the people and environment of Hawaii by monitoring air quality and regulating businesses that release pollutants into the air, a DOH statement said. The branch reviews and approves air permits, evaluates and enforces state and federal air standards, conducts inspections, and investigates reported incidents related to outdoor air quality.

In general, penalties are assessed on violators to at least offset any economic benefit they may have gained from their noncompliance, the department said. All fines are paid into a revolving special fund used to prevent or minimize damage to the environment.

Parties have the right to request a hearing to contest DOH orders.

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