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U.S. EPA takes action against Puainako Town Center to protect Hawaii’s drinking water from large capacity cesspools

Release Date: 04/21/2009
Contact Information: Mary Simms, 415-947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov

Fined more than $50,000 - cesspools discharge raw sewage into the ground, resulting in disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants that pollute groundwater, streams and the ocean

(4/21/2009 -- HONOLULU) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with Puainako Town Center Partners Incorporated, fining the company $52,500 for failing to close large capacity cesspools near the Prince Kuhio Shopping Center in Hilo, Hawaii.


    “We are focused on closing large capacity cesspools to protect drinking water resources for the people of Hawaii,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest region. “We’ll continue to pursue violators of the cesspool ban, and assess penalties as warranted.”
    Under the terms of the proposed settlement, which is currently available for public comment, Puainako Town Center must close all eight large capacity cesspools owned and operated by the company by May 1, 2009. Some of the large capacity cesspools have been closed, and all are to 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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