Illegal discharge from Hu Hunoa facility violates water pollution laws, DOH reports

Illegal discharge from Hu Hunoa facility violates water pollution laws, DOH reports
The illegal discharge came from the facility’s temporary wastewater treatment system, DOH officials say. (Image: Hawaii News Now) (Source: Hawaii News Now/File)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department reported this week that the Hu Honua Bioenergy facility on the Big Island violated water pollution laws with an unauthorized wastewater discharge in November.

Officials say the discharge of boiler cleaning wastewater came from the facility’s temporary wastewater treatment system on Nov. 9.

“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.”

DOH Clean Water enforcement personnel conducted an investigation at the Pepe’ekeo facility on Nov. 20, after the wastewater discharge was reported.

“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,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of environmental health.

The incident is still being investigated.

Hu Honua released this statement in response to the DOH analaysis:

“On November 9, 2018, wastewater used to flush a boiler was inadvertently released without authorization from a settling tank where it was still in the process of being treated. As soon as management was alerted to the incident, immediate actions were taken to stop the discharge, a preliminary assessment was made, and Hu Honua immediately reported the incident to the Department of Health. We have yet to see the report of the department’s subsequent investigation, but based on statements made in a department news release by Dr. Bruce Anderson, the Director of Health, we believe he has been misinformed about the facts of the matter. 
Hu Honua Bioenergy

Hu Honua says they attempted to contact Anderson and are hoping to meet with him to discuss the situation.

Hu Honua could face $25,000 in fines per day per violation and criminal prosecution for unlawful discharges to state waters.

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