A stream in Waipio smelled like beer. An investigation into a strange spill ensued.

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 5:38 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2021 at 11:38 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A stream in Waipio has been contaminated by runoff containing high amounts of drinking alcohol, Hawaii News Now has learned.

The state Health Department is now investigating the spill from a storm pipe next the the H-2 Freeway.

The state Department of Transportation, which owns the pipe, told the DOH that the spill came from Paradise Beverages, which owns a warehouse across the freeway from the spill site.

“The other day we came here you would think it was a beer pub that hadn’t opened its doors for three or four days,” said environmental activist Carroll Cox, who alerted the DOH about the spill last week.

Hawaii News Now tested a sample of the water with an independent laboratory ― FQ Labs ― which found that as much as 1.2% of the water was alcohol.

The water also contained sugar ― about .04% of its content.

Paradise Beverages, the state’s largest distributor of liquor and alcoholic beverages, said it still isn’t sure what’s causing the spill.

“Right now, we’ve had the Department of Transportation come in with their representatives and we’re dealing with them and we’ve also been contacted by the Department of Health,” said Anthony Rowe, the company’s director of operations.

“It may be coming from us so that’s why we’re working with the proper authorities.”

Earlier this week, the storm drain ― located on the Diamond Head side of the H2 near Ka Uka Boulevard, gushed out the contaminated water ― even though it’s hasn’t rained for days. The water flows into a creek that empties over a cliff into a gulch about 100 feet down.

A hiker who took photos of the runoff last week said the whole area reeked of beer.

The DOH said the storm drain is no longer leaking polluted water.

“It’s disturbing. It makes you want to pull your hair out, and I don’t have much left,” said Cox.

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