Kapalama businesses call for action on stinky stream pollution problem

Kapalama businesses call for action on stinky stream pollution problem
(Image: Carroll Cox)
(Image: Carroll Cox)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For years, businesses along a portion of the Kapalama Canal have complained about rotten egg-like smells caused by pollution in the stream.

"The smell can be sometimes be so strong we can smell it in the building. It's chemical, maybe sulfur type of smell," said Becky Doescher, of Design for Living. "Some mornings when we come, the water looks like milk. It's just white and you can't even see through it."

The unknown substance clouds a 500-yard-long tributary of the canal behind the Iwilei Best Buy store.

Its source appears to be a large pipe connected to a pump owned by landowner Castle & Cooke Inc., which pumps water from the city storm drains into the stream. Near the pipe, the milky substance is so thick that even the fish appear to be gasping for air.

It's unclear what's in the milky substance. Five years ago, the state Health Department did some initial tests and found that it contained sulfur.

"This entire area is known as one of the most toxic or hazardous waste sites there is in the state," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

Cox worries that contaminants in the ground are seeping into the storm drains and the stream.

Back in 2012, he filed a complaint with the state Health Department back in 2012, but nothing was done to fix the pollution problem.

Area businesses also want action.

"Over the years, we've called numerous people," said Doescher. "A lot of times we get referred to somebody else and referred to somebody else. And eventually it gets kind of dropped and there's no follow through."

The Health Department had no immediate response.

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