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Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corp. fined $75,000 for failing to close large capacity cesspools

Release Date: 05/19/2008
Contact Information: David Yogi, 808/541-2726, yogi.david@epa.gov Allyn Stern, 415/972-3952, stern.allyn@epa.gov

HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reached an agreement with Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Corporation for a $75,000 fine for failing to close three large capacity cesspools by April 2005 at its Hilo facility on the Big Island.

"We are pleased to announce this settlement and inform other companies of the necessity to fully comply with EPA’s regulations," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest region. "Proper closure of large capacity cesspools, through our ongoing compliance and enforcement efforts, results in protection of Hawaii’s groundwater and coastal environment."

A subsidiary of the Hershey Company, Mauna Loa owned and operated a macadamia nut processing plant and a visitor center in Hilo. The company was notified in July 2004 of the April 2005 deadline to close its large capacity cesspools. In October 2005, EPA inspectors were informed of cesspool closure plans. A year later, the facility was inspected again and the three large capacity cesspools were still in use.

In August 2007, more than two years after EPA’s regulatory deadline, the company completed work to close and replace its large capacity cesspools with a state-approved wastewater system. Mauna Loa’s wastewater facility has the capacity to serve more than 1000 people per day.

A large capacity cesspool discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people per day. The 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, which results in disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants – such as nitrates – polluting groundwater, streams and the ocean. Historically, cesspools were used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state. Many cesspools were owned by county, state, and federal agencies. However, numerous restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, ohana homes, apartments and condominiums also have cesspools.

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

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