The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a settlement with the Hawaii Department of Human Services to close two cesspools at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua.

The cesspools were discovered during a July 2018 inspection. The facility is run by the Office of Youth Services, which is an attached agency of DHS.

Cesspools can allow untreated sewage to contaminate other nearby water sources and ecosystems with chemicals and harmful pathogens.

According to an EPA press release, the DHS has agreed to complete the closures and conduct an additional compliance audit to review the conditions of new sanitary or septic systems and close any remaining pools by April 2021.

HYCF Administrator Mark Patterson said the cost of transitioning both buildings to a more reliable sewer or septic system will cost about $550,000. The EPA is requiring the DHS to pay a $128,000 penalty as well.

“We’re currently still in negotiations with the EPA,” Patterson said.

Spokesman Alejandro Diaz said in an email that the EPA hopes to encourage regulated entities to correct any violations of federal environmental law voluntarily and independently in the future.

The two cesspools are not currently being used, DHS Spokeswoman Amanda Stevens said in an email.

The HYCF campus is ninety years old and its sewer and water systems are antiquated, Stevens said. DHS is in the process of updating those systems and redeveloping the campus, she added.

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