KAILUA-KONA — The Army is paying $100,000 for keeping eight large capacity cesspools open a decade after the EPA ordered the closure of all cesspools of that size.
And it could be fined more if it keeps the cesspools open passed certain deadlines.
In a consent agreement announced Tuesday, the EPA said the cesspools can handle waste from 20 or more people a day, have an open bottom and may have perforated sides. They are distinct from the ones used in homes, and the EPA ordered all such large capacity cesspools closed by April 5, 2005, as “untreated sanitary waste from cesspools can enter ground water and contaminate drinking water sources.”
The cesspools provide no treatment for the waste and allow nitrates and human fecal bacteria into groundwater, the agency wrote.
The agreement says there were 12 cesspools active after the required closure date: four at Wheeler Army Airfield/Schofield Barracks on Oahu, and six at Pohakuloa Training Area and two at Kilauea Military Camp on the Big Island. The Army closed the ones at Schofield before the agreement.
The EPA says cesspools are more widely used in Hawaii than any other state, and the EPA has closed about 1,100 of the large capacity cesspools statewide.
Under guidelines published by the EPA, a replacement wastewater system has to be designed by a professional engineer and installed by a licensed contractor.
The cesspools on PTA’s land are to be closed by Sept. 30.
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