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U.S. EPA reaches agreement with K. Taniguchi, LTD. to protect the Big Island’s drinking water

Release Date: 07/07/2009
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

Company will close five large capacity cesspools, pay fine of $82,000

(07/07/09) HONOLULU - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with K. Taniguchi, LTD. of Hilo, to pay $82,000 for failing to close large capacity cesspools at the company’s property at 50 East Puianako Street in Hilo.

“This action is part of our continued effort focused on closing large capacity cesspools to protect drinking water and near shore water resources in Hawaii,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest region. “Owners and operators need to quickly close their large capacity cesspools to protect Hawaii waters, and we will continue to pursue violators.”

K. Taniguchi, LTD. must close all five large capacity cesspools which they own and operate at their Hilo location by September 1, 2009, as part of the proposed settlement, which is currently available for public comment. The closed cesspools will be replaced by Hawaii Department of Health-approved wastewater systems.

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. Federal regulations, which prohibit large capacity cesspools as of April 2005, do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.

Cesspools discharge raw sewage into the ground, allowing disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants – such as nitrates – to pollute groundwater, streams and the ocean. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state. Many are owned by county, state, and federal agencies.

However, there are numerous other cesspools serving restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, ohana homes, apartments and condominiums.

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/hicesspools.

For more information about the public notice and comment period, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region9/water/drinking/dw-enforcement.html

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