EXCLUSIVE: State investigates alleged illegal oil dumping
KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department is investigating allegations of illegal dumping of thousands of gallons of oil products next to the Kawainui Marsh.
Hawaii News Now has learned the company, Hawaiian Pumping Specialists, also does not have a permit to transport used petroleum products, in an apparent violation of state law.
"We recently received complaints and we've been following up on those complaints and have opened an investigation into the operations of the company," said Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo.
A former Hawaiian Pumping manager said the company often clean out its tanks using water and left the oily residue on the ground.
Charles Popken also told Hawaii News Now that he once witnessed the company's head, Dingo Sanchez, dump a truck load of the oily substance into a nearby stream.
"There was over 1,000 gallons of product there -- diesel, left over bilge water, oily water. He literally opened up the back of the truck and dumped it into the river," said Popken.
"It's just a blatant disregard of the law and the safety of the public."
Hawaiian Pumping's facilities are in the Kawainui wetlands and is several hundred feet away from streams and ponds that are home to rare birds and other wildlife.
"On a scale of one to ten, this is a ten," said environmental activist Carroll Cox, who first uncovered the dump site.
"This is substantial because of the volume and the potentially harmful types of contaminants."
Calls to Sanchez were not returned.
If the state finds that the company violated state or federal environmental laws, it faces fines of up to $25,000 per day.