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EPA resolves Clean Water Act violations with Honolulu and Waste Management at Waimanalo Gulch Landfill

Apr 30, 2019

HONOLULU – The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) have settled with the City and County of Honolulu (CCH) and Waste Management of Hawaii, Inc. (WMH), over Clean Water Act violations at the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Kapolei, Oahu.

CCH and WMH will pay a combined penalty of $425,000, which will be split evenly between the U.S. and the State of Hawaii. The state will use the funds for coral reef and habitat restoration, monitoring and conservation on the leeward coast of Oahu.

The agreement also calls for a series of facility upgrades to maintain compliance with stormwater regulations. CCH and WMH will retrofit the landfill’s existing stormwater drainage pipeline, install a trash screen, revise their stormwater pollution control plan, comply with specific operational and monitoring limits for the stormwater basin, and apply for an individual stormwater permit for the facility. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period.

“Today’s action requires the City and County of Honolulu and Waste Management to improve their stormwater drainage, controls, and monitoring program at Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Managing stormwater runoff is critical to protecting residents’ health and Oahu’s coastal waters.”

“Actions detailed in this consent decree will help prevent future harmful discharges from the landfill and provide resources to restore corals that were impacted by the violations,” said Hawaii DOH Deputy Director of Environmental Health Keith Kawaoka. “The consent decree concludes years of dispute over the horrific discharges of medical waste and sediment that occurred during the winter of 2010.”

Today’s settlement marks the end of a long-term effort by EPA and the state of Hawaii to bring the landfill – the largest on Oahu – into compliance with laws designed to protect public health, natural ecosystems, and wildlife.

Check Out Our Hawaii Online Stormwater Training!

Waste Management operates the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, which is owned by the City and County of Honolulu. In 2009, WMH and CCH began work on a landfill expansion and new stormwater diversion structure. During construction, Waste Management used temporary stormwater pipes to divert stormwater around the landfill.

Before completion of the permanent stormwater diversion structure, WMH began placing waste in the landfill expansion area. In December 2010 and January 2011, several large storms overwhelmed the temporary pipes and flooded the expanded area of the landfill. The flooding discharged stormwater contaminated with leachate, trash, and medical waste into the Pacific Ocean. Medical waste washed up on area beaches for several weeks, prompting leeward Oahu area beach closures.

EPA issued an order in January 2011 requiring cleanup of leachate, trash, and medical waste discharged during the storms. EPA issued an additional Clean Water Act order in 2012 requiring WMH and CCH to:  complete construction of the facility’s stormwater diversion system; finish a study of the landfill’s detention basin to evaluate its capacity to store and treat stormwater; and develop an interim stormwater monitoring plan. WMH and CCH have completed the requirements in those orders.

In July 2015, WMH pleaded guilty to criminal violations for negligent discharge of pollutants on seven days in violation of the Clean Water Act. The company paid $400,000 in criminal fines, and $200,000 in restitution.

The consent decree for this settlement will be lodged in the federal district court by the U.S. Department of Justice and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the decree will be available on the Department of Justice website at: https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees

For more information on EPA’s Stormwater Program please see:

Check Out Our Hawaii Online Stormwater Training!

https://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater-discharges-industrial-activities

For Hawaii’s Stormwater program, please see:

http://health.hawaii.gov/cwb/permitting/industrial-storm-water/ 

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Media Contact: Margot Perez-Sullivan, 415-947-4149, [email protected]

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