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Hawai'i DOT agrees to pay $1 million to resolve storm water violations

Release Date: 10/6/2005
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711,

Released jointly by the U.S. EPA, U.S. DOJ and Hawai'i Department of Health

Department fined $1 million, will spend over $50 million on compliance

HONOLULU - The Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Hawai'i Department of Health have reached an agreement with the Hawai'i Department of Transportation that requires the department to pay a $1 million penalty and spend an estimated $50 million to address Clean Water Act storm water violations at highways and airports in Hawai'i.

"Storm water discharges pollute Hawaii's streams, coastal waters, and coral reefs," said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "By agreeing to make long-lasting changes to its operations under this settlement, HDOT will reduce its impacts upon the environment at roads, airports and harbors. We believe these actions will result in increased protection of coral reefs and improved water quality for the people of Hawai'i."

The settlement requires HDOT to undertake a variety of actions - estimated to cost $50 million over the next five years - to improve management of storm water runoff from its highways and airports. These actions include requiring HDOT to:

* Update its existing program for management of its storm sewer system for highways on the island of Oahu. This includes improving removal of sediment and debris from roadsides and storm drain catch basins, reducing roadside erosion, and controlling other sources of pollution into its storm drainage system.

* Institute new procedures for controlling storm water at its highway construction projects. These include better processes for the planning and design of proposed projects and increasing inspections of contractors constructing projects on HDOT's behalf.

* Improve its management of storm water at airports. This consists of an enhanced program of inspections and enforcement against non-complying airport tenants to ensure that storm water is not polluting Hawai'i's waters.

HDOT will also pay $1 million in penalties to be divided between the state of Hawai'i and the United States. Further, HDOT will spend approximately $1 million to establish a management system to comprehensively assess HDOT's many environmental obligations at highways, airports and harbors under its jurisdiction. Finally, HDOT will also spend $60,000 to provide statewide training to construction contractors on storm water controls.

"This joint enforcement action represents tremendous team work between federal and state partners that will bring long-term, significant environmental improvements to Hawai'i's waters," said Granta Nakayama, EPA's Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Storm water runoff is a major threat to our water systems and wildlife. This settlement recognizes the importance of compliance with environmental obligations by the state Department of Transportation and their contractors."

"We take very seriously the laws that protect our environment from harmful pollutants," said Kelly A. Johnson, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "As a result of today's joint settlement, HDOT will make the necessary improvements to storm drainage systems, strengthening compliance with environmental laws and ensuring that valuable natural resources will be protected in the future."

Storm water runoff from unpaved land areas, paved streets, and maintenance baseyards contains contaminants such as sediments, chemicals, and oils that enter waterways and coastal zones, adversely impacting the environment.

Violations of the Clean Water Act's storm water control requirements led the EPA to issue several orders against HDOT in 1999, 2000 and 2002. Inspectors from EPA and the Hawai'i Department of Health found that HDOT was significantly behind other state and local governments in meeting national and state storm water requirements. HDOT's compliance with this settlement will resolve the outstanding violations covered by these orders.

The agreement takes effect when signed by the District Court judge following the conclusion of a 30-day public comment period. A copy of the consent decree lodged today will soon be available on the Department of Justice website at:

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