KOLOA — The federal Environmental Protection Agency has fined real estate firm Hale Kaua‘i $40,000, after finding a large-capacity cesspool at the company’s Waikomo Road property, which operates as Hardware Hawai‘i.
The EPA claims the cesspool qualifies as illegal under federal law, by being able to serve 20 or more people per day.
“Companies like Hale Kaua‘i and Halona Pacific (another fined entity) must do their part to protect water resources from the disease-causing pathogens found in large cesspools,” EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman said in a statement. “EPA is committed to finding and closing all remaining large capacity cesspools in Hawai‘i.”
But Hobey Beck, a Hale Kaua‘i board member and grandson of company co-founder Sam Wilcox, took issue with the EPA’s decision when contacted by The Garden Island.
“Hale Kaua‘i owns the building at Hardware Hawai‘i, which has one hand-wash sink and one employee-only toilet,” Beck said in an email. “Our system’s water use has never risen to show over five persons using it on any given day.
“According to the EPA’s loose interpretation of the law, ‘We have the capacity to be an LLC,’” Beck continued. “So, we are being fined for it without warning or notice.”
In August 2020, the EPA requested information about wastewater disposal at the Hale Kauai property. The agency has since determined it qualified as an illegal large-capacity cesspool, according to a press release.
Seven public drinking-water wells in the Koloa area risk contamination from cesspool discharge at the Hale Kaua‘i property, the EPA said.
In addition to the $40,000 fine, Hale Kaua‘i must backfill the cesspool and install a state-approved septic system by March 15, 2023, under the federal agency’s enforcement action.
Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island