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EPA Awards Over $30 Million to the Pacific Territories for Environmental Protection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded over $30 million as part of a yearly program that provides grants to Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa for use in continuing environmental protection work and for improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

EPA LOGO“EPA’s funding enables the islands to advance their goals in the pursuit of clean air, water and land,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “As one example, the investment made in leak detection projects in all three territories has dramatically reduced drinking water losses, and saved over $1 million in energy costs.”

Guam EPA will be receiving $3.2 million, CNMI DEQ will be receiving $1.7 million, and the American Samoa EPA $1.8 million to support the operations of each environmental agency. The work done by the agencies include inspections, monitoring the safety of beaches and drinking water, permit writing, enforcement and other facets of their environmental protection programs.

Additionally, EPA provides drinking water and wastewater construction grants to improve the water supplies in each of the territories. The Guam Waterworks Authority will be receiving $8.2 million, CNMI’s Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will be receiving $6.9 million, and the American Samoa Power Authority $8.3 million.

Accomplishment highlights from previous funding include:

  • Improvements to the drinking water system in all three territories, including improved chlorination in Guam, increased water storage in CNMI, and an ongoing extension of the central system in American Samoa to remote villages.
  • EPA funding has contributed to the increased drinking water availability in Saipan, where 95% of the population now has access to 24-hour water (up from 75% in 2009).
  • Improvements to the wastewater collection and treatment systems in all three territories, including rehabilitation of a treatment plant in Saipan, improvements to the collection infrastructure in Guam, and ongoing extension of sewer lines in American Samoa.
  • EPA has funded the replacement of older wastewater pumps with newer energy efficient pumps and controls, saving the utilities hundreds of thousands of dollars in power bills in all three territories.

Federal Officials Conduct Water Sampling Tests on Molasses Spill in Honolulu Harbor

Representatives from the Coast Guard National Strike Force, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted water sampling as part of a joint effort to analyze the effects of the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor Sunday.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard National Strike Force head to their first location to use a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard National Strike Force head to their first location to use a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

The combined team departed Coast Guard Station Honolulu Sunday morning aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium. The National Strike Force crewmembers from the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Strike Teams used a water quality instrument to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels at various locations around the harbor that were affected by the spill.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Moore with the National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team, prepares a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in the Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Moore with the National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team, prepares a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in the Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

The National Strike Force provides highly trained, experienced personnel and specialized equipment to Coast Guard and other federal agencies to facilitate preparedness for and response to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents in order to protect public health and the environment. The National Strike Force’s area of responsibility covers all Coast Guard Districts and Federal Response Regions.

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Moore with the National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team, handles a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in the Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class James Moore with the National Strike Force Atlantic Strike Team, handles a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels in the Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu, Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

The National Strike Force team members arrived in Honolulu Saturday after Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received an official request from the Hawaii Department of Health to assist with the response to the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor, Friday.

The Coast Guard began supporting the response Monday morning when investigators from Sector Honolulu responded to a report of discolored water in the harbor. Since then, the Coast Guard has held daily meetings with the lead State agency, Hawaii Department of Health. Crews from Station Honolulu have conducted daily patrols in the affected area since Monday.

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard National Strike Force discuss data from a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels with a member of the state of Hawaii Department of Health in Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

Crewmembers from the Coast Guard National Strike Force discuss data from a water quality instrument used to monitor depleted oxygen and pH levels with a member of the state of Hawaii Department of Health in Honolulu Harbor, Honolulu Sept. 15, 2013. Personnel from the Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested the water at various locations around Honolulu Harbor affected by the molasses spill. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

The request for federal assistance allows the Coast Guard to support the lead agency with a wide variety of resources to include specialized response personnel, boats and equipment from the Coast Guard and other Federal Agencies.

For more information contact the Sector Honolulu public affairs officer, Lt. Kevin Cooper at (808) 286-4675 or the Department of Health Public Information Officer, Janice Okubo at (808) 586-4442.

Coast Guard Supports State of Hawaii’s Response to Honolulu Harbor Molasses Spill

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received an official request from the Hawaii Department of Health to assist with the response to the molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor Friday.

Molasses Sharks

“The Coast Guard is prepared to bring all the requested resources to this incident to support our state and local partner agencies” said Capt. Shannon Gilreath, captain of the port Honolulu. “We have been working closely with state partners since the spill occurred to offer advice and resources. This official request is the next step in our joint response to this incident.”

The Coast Guard began supporting the response Monday morning when investigators from Sector Honolulu responded to a report of discolored water in the harbor. Since then, the Coast Guard has held daily meetings with the lead State agency, Hawaii Department of Health. Crews from Station Honolulu have conducted daily patrols in the affected area since Monday.

The request for federal assistance allows the Coast Guard to support the lead agency with a wide variety of resources to include specialized response personnel, boats and equipment from the Coast Guard and other Federal Agencies. The captain of the port requested support from the Coast Guard’s National Strike Force for water sampling and monitoring and is currently coordinating with technical specialists from the EPA to help assess additional response mitigation strategies.

The Hawaii Department of Health remains the lead agency for the response. Other agencies involved include the Hawaii Department of Transportation Harbor Police, Hawaii Health Department Clean Water Branch, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources, Clean Islands Council and the Hawaii Wildlife Center.

For more information contact the Sector Honolulu public affairs officer, Lt. Kevin Cooper at (808) 286-4675 or the Department of Health Public Information Officer, Janice Okubo at (808) 586-4442.

 

Three Hawaii University Campuses Join EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge

As part of the agency’s expanding efforts to reduce food waste across the state of Hawaii, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is recognizing the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Kapiolani Community College, and Hawaii Pacific University as the newest participants in the agency’s Food Recovery Challenge program.

As participants, UH, KCC and HPU join over 90 other colleges and universities nationwide in pledging to reduce wasted food. In addition to higher education institutions, other participants include grocers and entertainment venues, such as professional sports venues.

Food Recovery“Food waste that ends up in landfills is a particular problem for Hawaii, where disposal capacity is very limited,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is proud to partner with these universities as they support the environment and their communities by reducing food waste.”

Nationally, food waste is the single largest type of waste sent to landfills and incinerators, accounting for 25 percent of all materials sent to landfills and incinerators. When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps are disposed of in a landfill, they decompose and become a significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In turn, limiting wasted food will reduce methane emissions.

Communities and businesses across the nation are working toward zero waste to landfills and incinerators to protect the environment and create local jobs. Zero waste initiatives design and procure products that reduce waste and implement strong reuse, recycling, and composting programs. Many zero waste communities are reaching over 50 percent diversion from landfills and incinerators, with some achieving as high as 80 percent diversion.

“The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) and Kapiolani Community College have had a great year by assisting with the drafting of the first sustainability policy of the UH system. The UHM Sustainability Council the UHM administration also followed through with a commitment to ban styrofoam containers at on-campus dining locations,” said Doorae Shin, of the university’s campus wide Hawaii Student Sustainability Coalition. “A system wide sustainability policy in its final stage, and momentum is building up to ensure that our campuses practice environmental stewardship.”

“Hawaii Pacific University is excited to work with the EPA on the Food Recovery Challenge. Food waste is an important environmental issue, and HPU is committed to working towards long-term solutions that reduce the environmental impact of our dining operations,” said Josh Prigge, HPU’s Sustainability Coordinator.

Key Hawaii Food Recovery Non-profit Partners include: Rewarding Internship for Sustainable Employment (RISE), which provides paid internships to implement a variety of sustainability projects across the state including a Food Recovery internship; Aloha Harvest, which gathers quality, donated food and delivers it free of charge to social service agencies feeding the hungry of Hawaii; and The Green House, which runs programs to support sustainable living, gardening, and recycling.

The Food Recovery Challenge is part of EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management Program, which seeks to reduce the environmental impact of food and other widely-used everyday items through their entire life cycle, including how they are extracted, manufactured, distributed, used, reused, recycled or composted, and disposed.

For more information on the Food Recovery Challenge, visit: http://www.epa.gov/foodrecoverychallenge/
For more information about the RISE Program, visit: www.RISEHI.org
For more information about Aloha Harvest, visit: www.alohaharvest.org
For more information about The Green House: www.thegreenhousehawaii.com

Hawaii House Bill 903 Held By Senate Ways and Means Committee

Today the Senate Committee on Ways and Means voted to hold House Bill 903, House Draft 2, Senate Draft 1, effectively killing the bill for the 2013 legislative session.

HB 903

HB903, HD2, SB1 relates to nonpoint source water pollution; fee rules; separate account – establishes a separate Water Pollution Control account and authorizes the Director of Health to prescribe fees to help fund the operations of the Department of Health in managing pollution from nonpoint sources and individual wastewater systems.

Senator Russell Ruderman supported the intent of the bill – to reduce environmental pollution, but after amendments and changes to the language of the bill, and the overwhelming number of concerns expressed by constituents that this would have a potentially negative economical impact on the Puna-Ka’u district, Sen. Ruderman could not support the existing measure.

Senator Ruderman said, “I appreciate the decision of Chair Ige and the committee and thank you for your consideration on this measure. I would also like to thank Director Gary Gill and the Department of Health for their valuable time and efforts to address this important issue. Hopefully we can find a version that will address all of the concerns of our constituents.”

 

Organic Chemical Found on Walls of Kauai Water Tank

Department of Health

Recent samples taken from the inner wall of a Princeville water tank, part of a private water System on Kauai, have been confirmed to contain the organic chemical polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The samples were tested as part of an ongoing investigation to determine a source for contamination previously announced in December of last year.

Intense and regular testing has confirmed that the community’s drinking water remains safe. However, the source of the contamination remains unclear. Efforts to remove the contamination are advancing under the Department of Health’s supervision.

PCBs do not dissolve well in water. Extensive monitoring performed on the drinking water distribution system has determined that the chemical is not in Princeville’s drinking water. Water served to the public continues to be safe. “The Department continues to sample Princeville drinking water.

We have confirmed that PCBs are not reaching people’s homes,” said Gary Gill, Deputy Director for Environmental Health. “Our Safe Drinking Water Branch is working closely with Princeville Utility Company to assure that their work to fix this problem will continue to protect the public.”

On December 14, 2012, the Department of Health (DOH) announced that contaminants had been found in a water reservoir in Princeville, Kauai.

DOH and the Princeville Utilities Company Inc. (PUCI), owner and operator of the private Princeville water system, have taken immediate action to maintain the quality of the water to protect the health of residents who use it. The water system serves a population of about 2,200 people on Kauai’s north shore.

On March 14, 2013, DOH learned that scrapings from the inner wall of the Princeville water tank were confirmed to contain PCBs. Aroclor 1254, one component of PCBs, was found at 2600 parts per million (ppm). Another component, Aroclor 1260, was also found at 2100 ppm. The caulking on the outside of the tank was also tested and was found to contain PCBs.

Concrete caulking compounds containing PCBs were sometimes used in expansion joints in concrete structures erected prior to 1980. The Princeville water tank was built in 1971. Commercial production of PCBs ended in 1977 because of health effects associated with exposure. In 1979, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned the use of PCBs, however, PCBs may still be present in many pre-1979 products.

PUCI, with DOH approval, has decided to take the tank out of service to clean it. PUCI will remove an oily residue from the inner tank wall to help ensure that the chemicals do not leach into drinking water.

PUCI will install three new temporary 20,000 gallon water tanks to bypass the 1.5 million gallon tank.

During the bypass operation, residents will be urged to conserve water.

For more information on PUCI’s mitigation measures, contact Mike Loo of PUCI at (808) 826-6100.

The DOH has directed PUCI to continue weekly water testing to determine if PCBs are present in the distribution system and in sample water skimmed from the tank water surface. These samples are sent to CalScience Laboratory in California for testing; the CalScience Laboratory is certified by the DOH to run PCB analyses.

The DOH is also conducting concurrent monitoring twice per month to ensure that PCBs have not entered the drinking water distribution system.

The federal and state Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PCBs in drinking water is 0.5 parts per billion at the compliance sampling point, which is immediately after the 1.5 million gallon water tank. This standard is set to avoid health risks based on a lifetime of consuming water containing that level of contaminant. PCBs are a group of organic chemicals formerly used in the United States in hydraulic fluids, plasticizers, adhesives, fire retardants, and de-dusting agents. To date, the Princeville water system is in compliance with federal and state PCB standards for drinking water.

U.S. EPA Awards Hawaii Over $20 Million to Improve Water Quality, Protect Public Health / Hundreds of Millions in Funding Provided to Department of Health Since 1990

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded the Hawaii Department of Health a $10,946,000 million grant for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and a $9,125,000 million grant for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for water pollution control and drinking water infrastructure projects.

The Department of Health will use the funds to provide low-cost loans to the state’s counties for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades. In Hawaii, most of the infrastructure for wastewater treatment is along the coast and funding will assist in making improvements and adaptations to aging systems and those potentially impacted by rising sea levels from climate change.

“EPA is continuing its investment in Hawaii’s water infrastructure,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal, along with the Department of Health, is ensure that Hawaii has safe, reliable drinking water and proper wastewater treatment.”

The EPA has awarded $282 million in federal funding for Hawaii’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund program from 1990 to the present. Every year, more funds become available as the principle, interest and fees are repaid to the program. Hawaii’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund reached $611 million last year, with a total of 74 wastewater treatment projects funded statewide totaling $509 million. The funds are used for a wide variety of water quality projects, including nonpoint source pollution control, watershed protection or restoration, improving water and energy efficiency, and traditional municipal wastewater treatment projects.

The Hawaii Drinking Water State Revolving Fund totals $192 million and the Hawaii Department of Health has issued 45 loans totaling $124 million. Funds to the program also support projects such as capacity development, sanitary surveys, drinking water operator training and technical assistance.

Forty years ago, when the federal Clean Water Act was made law, Congress charged a fledgling EPA with the goal of making the nation’s waters “fishable and swimmable.” Achieving this goal requires communities to make large investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The state revolving funds are EPA’s primary tools for helping communities meet their continuing and significant water infrastructure needs. Each state maintains revolving loan fund programs, capitalized by the EPA, to provide low cost financing for water quality infrastructure projects.

Contact: Dean Higuchi, 808/541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

Environmental Protection Agency Initiates Enforcement Actions Against Kauai Restaurant

EPA issues complaint to Tahiti Nui for failing to close cesspools – Kauai restaurant failed to respond to demands to comply with requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated an enforcement action under the Safe Drinking Water Act against Christian Marston and Tahiti Nui Enterprises, Inc. LLC for failing to close three large capacity cesspools in Hanalei, Kauai.

Christian Marston

“EPA is committed to protecting Hawaii’s vital water resources by closing these illegal large capacity cesspools,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Although almost 3,000 cesspools have been closed, an alarming number are still in use.”

EPA has inspected Marston’s property, including the Tahiti Nui Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, multiple times and notified Marston that his establishment was in violation of the federal regulations. In 2006, the owner acknowledged the operation of large capacity cesspools and retained the services of a professional engineer to design a state-approved individual wastewater system to replace the cesspools.

However, in 2010 EPA determined that Marston had failed to comply with the requirements to close and convert the three cesspools serving his property. As a result of the continued noncompliance, EPA is now seeking penalties of up to $177,500, the amount authorized under the Safe Drinking Water Act, in addition to prompt closure and replacement of the cesspools with an approved wastewater system.

The facility is located in a “priority watershed,” as designated by the State of Hawaii and EPA, where use of the large capacity cesspools poses a significant risk to underground sources of drinking water and nearby surface waters.

A large capacity cesspool discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people per day. EPA regulations prohibited new large capacity cesspool construction after April 2000 and required closure of existing large cesspools as of April 2005. The regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools or to non-residential cesspools that do not have the capacity to serve 20 or more people.

Cesspools, which are used more widely in Hawaii than any other state, discharge raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants can pollute groundwater, streams and the ocean.  Large capacity cesspools are used by restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, apartments and condominiums, to dispose their sanitary waste.

For more information on this particular complaint visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-tahiti-nui.html

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/groundwater/uic-hicesspools.html