BOSTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Aug. 24 that the owner of two Big Island hardware stores and a commercial property has agreed to close four large-capacity cesspools (LCCs) at properties in Naalehu, Kamuela and Hilo, Hawaii.
According to EPA, cesspools can contaminate groundwater; The LCCs, specifically, have been banned since 2005. In 2016 the agency identified three cesspools while inspecting the Naalehu and Kamuela Housemart Ace Hardware stores, owned by Maui Varieties Investments Inc. (MVI). Afterward, MVI voluntarily disclosed a fourth LCC at a separate commercial property.
Maui Varieties agreed to close the two Naalehu store LCCs, the agreement says,and the systems will be replaced with wastewater treatment systems approved by the Hawaii Department of Health. At the Kamuela location, MVI will close the LCC and connect the store, instead, to a private sewer system. Finally, MVI will close the LCC at the commercial property in Hilo, and connect the location to a sewer system managed by the county of Hawaii.
“Replacing these harmful cesspools with modern wastewater treatment systems will protect the Big Island’s drinking water and coastal resources,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal is to protect Hawaii’s waters by closing all large-capacity cesspools.”
MVI also agreed to pay a $134,000 civil penalty.