Hawaii News

State Fines US Navy Nearly $9M For Sewage Discharges

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The U.S. Navy is being fined nearly $9 million because of discharges of sewage into state waters.

The state Department of Health assessed an $8,776,250 penalty based on 766 counts of discharging pollutants that exceeded permit limits, 17 counts of unauthorized bypass and 212 counts of operation and maintenance failures at the NAVFAC Hawai‘i Wastewater Treatment Plant near Pearl Harbor.

The Health Department issued a notice of violation and order to the Navy to address a myriad deficiencies at the wastewater treatment facility. The department said numerous operation and maintenance issues led to repeated discharges of untreated or partially treated sewage.

According to the Health Department, violations include:

  • Discharging effluent that exceeded Enterococci bacteria and other contaminant limits.
  • Unauthorized bypass of sand filters because of leaving a bypass valve open.
  • Unauthorized bypass of sand filters because of poor operation and maintenance.
  • Failure to operate and maintain aeration basin treatment units.
  • Failure to operate and maintain sand filter bypass valve.
  • Failure to operate and maintain ultraviolet disinfection systems.
  • Failure to operate and maintain critical final effluent pumps.

“The Navy’s failure to properly operate and maintain this wastewater treatment plant led to the pollution of state waters,” Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho said in a press release. “We are taking action to protect our state’s water resources and to hold the Navy accountable to make critical repairs and prevent a potential catastrophic failure of the facility.”

The state also ordered corrective actions be taken to address critical violations, including:

  • Assessing the condition of the wastewater facility at Pearl Harbor and repairing issues/items identified from the assessment.
  • Repairing the ultraviolet disinfection system to ensure adequate backup capabilities.
  • Identifying and clearing all backlogged preventive and corrective maintenance.
  • Exercising all valves to ensure full functionality.
  • Conducting a structural integrity assessment of the aeration basins and completing repairs.
  • Obtaining a root cause analysis for recent effluent pump failures.
  • Revising and implementing an updated operations and maintenance plan based on an assessment and plan developed to optimize operations and process control protocols for the facility.

The Navy can submit a request for a hearing and contest the notice of violation and order within 20 days of its receipt.


Click here to download a copy of the notice of violation and order.

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