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EPA detects toxic levels of pollution from Pearl Harbor wastewater treatment plant

Corroded center baffle on secondary clarifier.
Corroded center baffle on secondary clarifier.(EPA)
Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 4:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The EPA entered an agreement with the US Navy Thursday to upgrade Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s wastewater treatment plant after inspectors detected toxic levels of pollution entering the ocean.

The agency said the Navy exceeded discharge limits under the Clean Water Act for cadmium, zinc, oil and grease, pH and other toxic pollutants.

Officials said the plant also had numerous operation and maintenance violations, including algae growth, warped and disconnected parts, cracked concrete tanks and severely corroded equipment.

In October 2019, the Navy found structural defects in its the outflow pump station. Officials said if the pump station is not repaired, it could cause uncontrolled discharges of effluent and could damage treatment systems, as well as compromise worker safety.

“The Navy’s lack of proper operation and maintenance of the treatment plant has led to excessive toxic pollution discharges into Pearl Harbor and unacceptable worker safety risks,” said Amy Miller, a regional director with the EPA.

Under the agreement, the Navy must replace, repair or refurbish the plant’s clarifiers and a pump station by December 2024. The Navy must also develop a plan to prevent and respond to potential infrastructure failures at the plant.

The plant treats domestic and industrial wastewater from the military’s Pearl Harbor facilities and serves up to 40,000 people.

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