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EPA Closes 10 Large Illegal Cesspools in Hawai‘i

November 8, 2018, 9:38 AM HST (Updated November 9, 2018, 8:40 AM)
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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency enforcement actions this year in Hawai‘i led to closures of 10 large-capacity cesspools (LCC) and over $640,000 in fines.

“We will continue working to close all remaining large cesspools,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “This enforcement effort will help protect Hawai‘i’s drinking water and coastal water resources.”

EPA actions to close prohibited LCCs this past year include:

Hawai‘i Island

Kamehameha Schools (KS): The largest landowner in Hawai‘i agreed to a landmark initiative to audit over 3,000 properties spanning more than 365,000 acres to identify and close large-capacity cesspools. As part of this agreement, KS is also settling an administrative action for $99,531 related to an LCC at the Volcano Golf Course and Country Club, a property owned by KS and leased to Hawaii International Sporting Club on the Island of Hawai‘i. In July 2017, the lessee closed the cesspool and replaced it with an approved septic system.

O‘ahu

Hawaii Country Club: EPA inspectors found a cesspool operating on Hawaii Country Club’s property in Wahiawa (O‘ahu). As part of the agreement, Hawaii Country Club will close the LCC by Nov. 30, 2018, and to pay a $40,000 penalty.

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Honolulu, LLC/Hon Realty: Inspectors found an operating cesspool in operation on Hon Realty’s property in Campbell Industrial Park, O‘ahu. Hon Realty also disclosed a second cesspool located at a nearby property. As part of the agreement, Hon Realty will close both LCCs by April 30, 2019, and will pay a $126,652 penalty.

Dole Food Co.: The company failed to close two LCCs at its Pu‘uiki Beach Park property on O‘ahu. The company has since closed the two cesspools and replaced them with state-approved septic systems and paid a $145,000 penalty. The private 9-acre Pu‘uiki Beach Park in Waialua is used by Dole employees for company gatherings and recreational activities.

Kloeckner Metals Corporation: The company failed to close an LCC on its property in Campbell Industrial Park, O‘ahu. Kloeckner Metals will pay $46,608, close the LCC, and perform a supplemental environmental project to close two small-capacity cesspools at Kloeckner’s facility. The three cesspools will be closed by Dec. 31, 2018.

Kaua‘i

N.F. Kawakami Store: The property owner of the Koloa Big Save Supermarket did not close a large-capacity cesspool on Kaua‘i. Under the settlement, company will pay a civil penalty of $110,000, close the large cesspool and replace it with a wastewater treatment plant.

Smith Waterhouse Family of Koloa: EPA inspectors found two LCCs at the Old Koloa Town Shopping Center on the island of Kaua‘i. Under the settlement, the company will pay $81,549, close the LCCs and replace them with a wastewater treatment plant approved by the Hawaii Department of Health.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA banned large-capacity cesspools in 2005. Since then, more than 3,400 LCCs have been closed statewide; however, many thousands remain in operation. Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. Groundwater provides 95% of all domestic water in Hawai‘i, where cesspools are used more widely than in any other state.

The federal ban applies to large cesspools that serve 20 or more daily, not individual cesspools connected to single-family homes. The State of Hawai‘i has set a goal of closing or upgrading all small-capacity cesspools by 2050.

For more information on the large-capacity cesspool ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, go online.

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