- Special Projects
Updated 4:03 p.m., 9/10/2014
The Hawaii Department of Transportation has to pay a $1.2 million penalty and fix federal Clean Water Act stormwater violations at Honolulu and Kalaeloa harbors under a multi-agency agreement announced Wednesday.
The department also has to create an Office of Environmental Compliance, rank and inspect harbor tenants based on their risk of polluting and establish a comprehensive Construction Runoff Control Program to manage discharges from development sites.
The agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Health stems from EPA and DOH inspections in December 2008 at the two harbors.
“Stormwater discharges pollute Hawaii’s streams and coastal waters,” Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in a joint EPA-DOH release. “By making long-term changes to its operations, HDOT is taking major steps to increase the protection of beaches, coral reefs and water quality on Oahu.”
The DOT has to pay the $1.2 million civil penalty, plus interest, within seven days of the entry of the consent decree. Half of the money will be paid to the DOH and half to the U.S. government, according to the decree.
Update “The Hawaii DOT has already made major strides in improving storm water run-off management plans in its Highways and Airports Divisions,” interim DOT Director Ford Fuchigami said in a statement. “The creation of the environmental compliance office will ensure that HDOT has staff strictly focused on environmental issues across all divisions.”
The DOT has 180 days to reorganize its Office of Special Compliance into an Office of Environmental Compliance and appoint a new manager who will report directly to the DOT director. Fuchigami was appointed in May to serve as interim director, replacing Glenn Okimoto.
The manager will have the responsibility and authority to ensure DOT complies with all environmental regulations and permits, according to the decree. And the office’s staff must audit each DOT operational division and develop a stormwater prevention outreach and training program.
“With the assistance of the state Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency, the HDOT is making good progress toward complying with requirements for Honolulu and Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbors,” the DOT statement says. “Improvements include programs covering illicit discharge detection & elimination; outfall inspections; new and post-construction Best Management Practices; updates to tenant storm water management programs; ongoing training for employees, harbor users, and tenants; upgrading inspection protocols; and creating an office of environmental compliance to ensure conformity and consistency throughout the DOT.
“In the past several years, the HDOT administration has been working closely with the EPA and the state Health Department to address issues that were identified in 2008, 2009, and 2010. The department looks forward to continued support and guidance from those agencies as we address these important issue,” the DOT statement says.
The settlement also requires the DOT to rank all harbor tenants annually based on their activities, inspecting all high-risk tenants twice per year, medium-risk tenants annually and low-risk tenants every five years; inspect stormwater outfalls during wet and dry weather for the presence of non-stormwater discharges and assess the physical condition of each to determine maintenance; and study the feasibility of retrofitting construction projects and complete at least three retrofits.
“Storm water carries contamination from the land into the ocean; this is the biggest source of water pollution in our islands,” said Gary Gill, Department of Health Deputy Director for Environmental Health. “All landowners are responsible to protect our streams and coastlines. With this case settled, we can expect our state government to be a better steward of Hawaii’s clean waters.”
Read the decree in its entirety here: