Cesspool Violations Cause Stink for Hawaii Housing Corp.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new order fining the state of Hawaii’s Housing Finance and Development Corporation $110,000 for failing to close large-capacity cesspools at its Jack Hall Memorial Housing property.

“While many large-capacity cesspools have been closed, those owners and operators who still have such wastewater systems are overdue in taking steps to comply with the 2005 ban,” said Alexis Strauss, water division director of EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “EPA will continue to bring compliance actions to protect Hawaii’s water resources.”

In April 2005, EPA entered into a compliance agreement with the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation’s predecessor, the Hawaii Community and Development Corporation, to close over 100 large-capacity cesspools by March 2009, including the 13 cesspools at Jack Hall Memorial Housing.

The large-capacity cesspools at Jack Hall are now to be closed two years later than the deadline set in the April 2005 agreement. In addition to paying the fine for missing the March 2009 closure date, HHFDC has agreed to a new closure date of March 2011.

“We will continue to pursue targeted enforcement actions as there are large-capacity cesspools still in use by restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings in violation of EPA’s regulations,” said David Albright, manager of the EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Ground Water Office.

A large-capacity cesspool is one that discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people per day. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state. Cesspools discharge raw sewage into the ground, allowing disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants to potentially pollute groundwater, streams, and the ocean. Federal regulations, which prohibit large-capacity cesspools as of April 2005, do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.

For more information on EPA’s large-capacity cesspool regulations, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/hicesspools.

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