EXCLUSIVE: Big Island man sues DHHL over big stink

EXCLUSIVE: Big Island man sues DHHL over big stink
Published: Mar. 10, 2014 at 7:50 AM HST
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BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Leonard Low waited more than 40 years to get a Department of Hawaiian Home Lands lease.

But the three-bedroom home he wound up buying on the Big Island turned into a nightmare for the 70-year-old retired plumber.

A defective septic system that caused sewer odors to back up into his home has gotten him sick, Low said.

"It's very nauseating. You get headaches, dizziness. It's disgusting to say the least," said Low, whose home is part of the Lalamilo subdivision in Kamuela.

"The sewage is unreal. How can you wait that long and this is what you get? It's unbearable."

Last year, Low sued the DHHL, alleging that the sewage odors back up into his home because it was built with a substandard seepage pit that holds the raw sewage.

The state Department of Health recently cited pit as being too small for the home and has rescinded its permit for the septic system.

Low also pointed to faulty construction, where screws used to hold down seals are rusting.

And gaskets that keep the system air tight are already corroded.

"I'm worried about my grand children and great-granddaughter playing around with this," he said.

"That's how unsafe it is."

The DHHL said it offered to fix the problem but Low balked.

Low said he refused because the deal required him to waive all of his medical claims and because the department told him not to talk to his neighbors about the problems.

The Lalamilo subdivision where Low lives has 37 homes and nearly half of those residents have complained about noxious odors.

"I think its real unsafe and unsanitary for use to live in these kind of conditions," said Nicolas Perry Jr., a Lalamilo resident.

Low's lawsuit is proceeding through the court system but no trial date has been set.

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