HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island Dairy has intentionally discharged about 800,000 gallons of wastewater, prompting health and civil defense officials to warn the public to stay out of waters near the Kaohaoha Gulch.
Big Island County Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter said she fears the spill is even worse than reported.
“The community right now is pissed," she said.
The discharge is no accident. The company told the state Health Department that it is releasing the waste from a retaining pond because heavy rains threatened the pond’s structural integrity.
It’s at least the fifth waste discharge this year by the dairy. In August, it released nearly 6 million gallons.
Spills in May prompted the Health Department to fine the company about $91,000.
The dairy has not responded to HNN’s requests for comment.
It’s in the process of selling its operations and leaving Hawaii, blaming the cost of complying with federal environmental regulations.
Environmental watchdogs said the dairy should never have been allowed in the first place without the proper environmental controls.
“If you can’t operate a dairy or any business without letting the pollutants being generated and running off ... then the state should shut you down," said Carroll Cox, of Envirowatch Inc.
“It seems like the state is giving them a get out of jail card for free.”
This story will be updated.