EPA protects Big Island water resources by ordering closure of three illegal cesspools
SKS Management and Wailuku Plaza will close cesspools and pay a combined $71,780 penalty
News Release from US EPA, October 20, 2022
HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken an enforcement action to close two illegal large capacity cesspools (LCCs) at the Wailuku Professional Plaza in Hilo and one cesspool at the SKS Management LLC self-storage business in Kailua-Kona. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA banned LCCs in 2005.
“Big Island companies must do their part to protect our surface water and groundwater resources from the disease-causing pollution found in large capacity cesspools,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “EPA is committed to finding and closing all remaining illegal cesspools in Hawai‘i.”
The Wailuku Professional Plaza is located about 100 feet from the Wailuku River in Hilo. In July 2021, EPA conducted an inspection of the Plaza and found two unlawful cesspools serving the multi-tenant commercial office building. Wailuku Professional Plaza, LLC – which owns and operates the Wailuku Professional Plaza – settled the case, agreeing to close the illegal cesspools and pay a $43,000 penalty on May 4, 2022.
EPA also found that the Power Self Storage – Kuakini facility in Kailua-Kona has a restroom that is served by a large capacity cesspool. SKS Management LLC – the facility’s operator – settled the case, agreeing to pay a $28,780 penalty and close the illegal cesspool by September 1, 2023.
These cesspools meet the regulatory criteria of unlawful non-residential large capacity cesspools because they have the capacity to serve 20 or more persons per day. EPA is authorized to issue compliance orders and/or assess penalties to violators of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s cesspool regulations.
Cesspools collect and release untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams, and the ocean.
Since the 2005 federal ban, more than 3,750 large capacity cesspools in Hawaii have been closed; however, hundreds remain in operation. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than any other state and pose a unique challenge as groundwater provides 95% of all water supply for the islands.
To encourage regulated entities to voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously close these pollution-causing systems, EPA provides penalty mitigation and other incentives for companies that proactively find and close LCCs on their property.
Information on how to self-disclose potential large-capacity cesspool violations is available at: https://www.epa.gov/compliance/epas-edisclosure.
For more information on the federal ban and definition of a large-capacity cesspool, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/large-capacity-cesspools.
For more information on cesspools in Hawai’i, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii.
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