(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi Department of Health Clean Water Branch has issued a Notice of Violation and Order to Hū Honua Bioenergy, LLC for “an unauthorized discharge of industrial wastewater on Nov. 9, 2018, at their facility in Pepe‘ekeo on Hawai‘i Island,” health officials report.
The state says the Notice of Violation states that Hū Honua violated Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, HRS 342D-50(a) for discharging pollutants to a state water without a permit or other authorization.
“Our inspectors have confirmed a worker for Hū Honua Bioenergy opened a valve on its industrial wastewater treatment tank and allowed the contents of the tank to discharge from their facility into the environment,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director of the Environmental Health Administration for DOH, in a media release issued Wednesday. “This is a serious violation as discharges without permit authorization are strictly prohibited to protect human and environmental health from exposure to pollutants, which can cause serious and sometimes irreparable harm.”
UPDATE (Dec. 20) Hū Honua President Warren Lee responded to our request for comment, saying that “Hū Honua Bioenergy (HHB) is reviewing and responding to the Department of Health Notice of Violation and Order (NOVO). HHB will be requesting the DOH investigation report. The boiler cleaning water was being treated and was not authorized for discharge.”
On November 30, the health department announced it was pursuing an environmental enforcement action against the Pepeʻekeo bioenergy company, calling the alleged discharge an act of “blatant disrespect of the environmental laws”. It was also reported that Hū Honua President Warren Lee took exception to the state’s characterization of the incident.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Health says:
The DOH investigation determined the discharged wastewater was generated between Nov. 2-6, 2018, as part of Hū Honua Bioenergy’s commissioning of its boiler and had been stored in wastewater treatment tanks prior to the discharge. Between 3,500 and 32,500 gallons of treated industrial wastewater composed of freshwater, acidic metal cleaning solution and residue from the descaling of the boiler was discharged. While the dark green colored wastewater had been filtered and neutralized prior to discharge, it contained high levels of iron and is a regulated waste.
The state’s Order requires Hū Honua “to implement environmental compliance training for all its employees within 30 days, develop standard operating procedures to prevent discharges of a similar nature, and pay a penalty of $25,000 to DOH,” health officials say. After all corrective actions have been completed, Hū Honua Bioenergy must submit a corrective action report to DOH.
The health department has also issued a formal Request for Information to Hū Honua, and says the company is required to provide timely responses to questions.
Hū Honua Bioenergy may request a hearing to contest the Notice of Violation and Order, as well as the Request for Information, within 20 days of receipt of the order, the state says.