Hawai‘i Department of Health determines Hū Honua Bioenergy violated state water pollution laws with illegal discharge

November 30, 2018 18-091

Hawai‘i Department of Health determines Hū Honua Bioenergy
violated state water pollution laws with illegal discharge
HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) Clean Water Branch is pursuing an
environmental enforcement action against the Hū Honua Bioenergy facility in Pepe‘ekeo on
Hawai‘i Island. Preliminary findings from the Clean Water Branch’s investigation confirm Hū
Honua Bioenergy personnel caused an unauthorized discharge of industrial wastewater from
their facility’s treatment system on Friday morning, Nov. 9, 2018.
“The discharge was a blatant disrespect of the environmental laws that govern this highly
regulated industry,” said Health Director Bruce Anderson. “The history of concern over the
operations of this facility emphasize the need for the Department of Health to take swift action
on this violation.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2018, DOH Clean Water Branch enforcement personnel conducted an
inspection at the Hū Honua facility in response to a reported discharge of boiler cleaning
wastewater. Inspectors interviewed Hū Honua management, environmental personnel and
workers who were onsite the day of the discharge. The facility’s temporary wastewater
treatment system was also inspected as the source of the discharge.
“While in general, the department does not provide information about ongoing investigations,
given the public nature of this case and community concerns, we are confirming the cause of
the spill and moving forward on the enforcement process,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director
of Environmental Health. “Fortunately, our staff did not observe visible damage to the
environment or determine an imminent threat to the health of the public from the discharge.”
The DOH Clean Water Branch is continuing their investigation; further information to determine
the volume and chemical characteristics of the unauthorized discharge is still being collected. A
formal report with recommendations for enforcement requirements and penalties will be
completed. For unlawful discharges to state waters, violators face potential civil penalties of up
to $25,000 per day per violation and potential criminal prosecution.
The Hawai‘i Department of Health’s Clean Water Branch protects the health of residents and
visitors who enjoy the state’s coastal and inland water resources. The Branch also protects and
restores inland and coastal waters for marine life and wildlife. This is accomplished through
statewide coastal water surveillance and watershed-based environmental management using a
combination of permit issuance, water quality monitoring and investigation, water quality
violation enforcement, polluted runoff control, and public education.

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