(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi Department of Health says it has entered into an Administrative Order on Consent, or AOC, with the owners of Big Island Dairy, LLC, following years of environmental concerns that eventually led to the demise of the operation located above Ōʻōkala town on the Hāmākua Coast.
During the past two years, numerous discharges of wastewater into state waters containing manure from the dairy were documented by health inspectors. The dairy is now in the process of shutting down and cleaning up.
This media release was issued by the state on Thursday:
The AOC requires Big Island Dairy owners to terminate their dairy operations, remove all their cows from confinement on the site, clean and remove the existing wastewater system, and pay $79,000 by June of 2019, either as an administrative penalty or to fund an environmentally beneficial project in the area.
The removal of cows in confinement and the cleaning and removal of the dairy’s wastewater system is expected to halt the odor and wastewater discharges that have affected neighbors in Oʻokala during operations at the Big Island Dairy facility.
“Entry into the AOC ensures that the closing of the dairy is being conducted in an expeditious and responsible manner,” said Keith Kawaoka, DOH deputy director of environmental health. “While the Department of Health supports local agricultural and food sustainability, operation of industrial agricultural facilities must be conducted in a manner that respects both Hawaii’s delicate environment and the local communities that host them.”
Big Island Dairy was unable to comply with state and federal laws in place to protect human and environmental health due to the dairy’s size, limitations of its wastewater system and local environmental conditions. The property receives a large amount of rainfall, has steep slopes and volcanic soils making it susceptible to flooding and wastewater discharges. The dairy’s inability to comply, along with a federal court lawsuit outside of DOH’s enforcement, forced dairy owners to agree to cease milking operations and close their facility.