Big Island storage facility to pay $130,000 penalty to EPA for illegal cesspool
For operating an illegal large capacity cesspool, the owners of Extra Space Storage Facility in Kailua-Kona agreed to pay a $130,000 penalty in a settlement announced Wednesday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The owners of the Kona facility at 73-4864 Kanalani Street are Extra Space Management and Kaloko Storage 18.
Under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA banned large capacity cesspools in 2005.
“Illegal large capacity cesspools pose major threats to groundwater and precious coastal resources across Hawai‘i,” Martha Guzzman, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator, said in a press release.
“EPA is committed to using our enforcement authority to ensure that all such unlawful cesspools are permanently closed to protect the public health of residents and their vital water resources.”
In October 2022, the EPA took enforcement action to close one illegal large capacity cesspool at the SKS Management self-storage business in Kailua-Kona and two cesspools at the Wailuku Professional Plaza in Hilo.
EPA is authorized to issue compliance orders and/or assess penalties to violators of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s underground injection control regulations.
In July 2021, EPA said it inspected the Extra Space Storage facility and sent an information request in September of that year about the method of wastewater disposal at the property.
The agency confirmed there an illegal large capacity cesspool (serving more than 20 people) was in operation at the site and it was backfilled in December 2022.
Cesspools collect and release untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams, and the ocean.
Since the 2005 federal ban, more than 3,750 large capacity cesspools in Hawaiʻi have been closed; but hundreds remain in operation. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaiʻi than any other state and pose a unique challenge as groundwater provides 95% of all water supply for the islands.
To encourage regulated entities to voluntarily discover, promptly disclose and expeditiously close these pollution-causing systems, EPA provides penalty mitigation and other incentives for companies that proactively find and close large capacity cesspools on their property. Information about how to self-disclose potential large-capacity cesspool violations is available here.
Cesspools with a capacity of under 20 people also are a big problem on the Big Island. Read more here.
Learn more about the federal ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool.
Learn more about cesspools in Hawaii.