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EPA settles with Dole Food to close illegal cesspools

Staff Writer |
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Dole Food for failing to close two large-capacity cesspools (LCC) at its Puuiki Beach Park property on Oahu.

Under the settlement, the company has closed the two cesspools and replaced them with state-approved septic systems. In addition, Dole will pay a civil penalty of $145,000 for violating the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

Cesspools collect and discharge waterborne pollutants like untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. In 2005, the federal government banned large-capacity cesspools.

“Closing large cesspools is essential to protecting Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal resources,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

“EPA’s large-capacity cesspool inspection and enforcement efforts will continue until illegal cesspools are a distant memory.”

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state, even though 95 percent of all drinking water in Hawaii comes from groundwater sources. In the thirteen years more than 3,400 large-capacity cesspools have been closed statewide, many through voluntary compliance.

The private, 9-acre Puuiki Beach Park in Waialua is used by Dole employees for company gatherings and recreational activities. The Dole Food Co. is a producer of fruit and vegetables, focused primarily on pineapples at their Oahu plantation.

The settlement is subject to a 30-day comment period before becoming final.

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