HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The controversy over the dumping of tons of sludge in Waianae is now a criminal case.
Hawaii News Now has learned that the Honolulu Police Department is working with the city Department of Planning and Permitting in its investigation into SER Trucking of Waianae.
"Now it's a different ball game," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.
"With this new investigation, a criminal investigation, it could go thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars (in fines)."
SER is the company hired by the Hawaii Kai Marina Association's dredging company to transport tons of material dug up from the marina to a farmland on Waianae Valley Road.
The dumping attracted a lot of community opposition in September after SER accidentally spilled one of its loads on the H-1 freeway, tying up traffic for hours.
Many critics of the dumping say they welcome the HPD's involvement.
"Anything to protect our community from any type of dredging they do or the dumping that they are doing is something we take seriously," said City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine.
SER's owner could not be reached for comment.
The criminal investigation comes at the city Department of Planning and Permitting has cited the company several times over the past four years.
In October, the city agency fined SER $550 for running a trucking company on agriculturally zoned land. The agency cited the company for a similar violation in 2009.
Cox said the company has dumped illegally at other sites in Waianae, including a 20-acre property on Halona Road.
"We have actual photographs of sheet tin, or corrugated tin or rebar and other metals bleeding so to speak out of the hill," Cox said.
"I've always said (they are) a serial dumper."
Natalie Iwasa, a Hawaii Kai resident and a candidate for city council, said she working with members of the Waianae community to introduce legislation targeting illegal dumping.
One of them aims to limit the amount of time a landowner can stockpile large amounts of material on private property, she said.