Any pollutants found in stream need reporting
: I live by a stream in Kaneohe that is being used as an industrial toilet. One day, the smell was especially toxic. I found several empty cans of spray paint and paint thinner floating down the stream. Whom should I call to report the polluting? Could I take water samples myself to use as future evidence? Many people eat the fish out of the this stream. Any kokua would be appreciated by the ducks, fish and people that live in or by this stream and Kaneohe Bay.
Answer: Call the state Department of Health's Clean Water Branch at 586-4309.
Branch chief Alec Wong explained that in populated areas, land around and through a stream is usually privately owned, while the waterway itself would be under the jurisdiction of the state.
There are exceptions, he said, such as land owned by military or the counties.
If you know the source of pollution, such as a city street or state highway, you should contact the appropriate agency.
But since it's not usually that clear-cut, the Clean Water Branch could help determine jurisdiction. If it cannot be determined, it would do an inspection to find the pollution source and then take appropriate action.
Wong advised complainants to observe and record as much information as possible to help investigators. That includes detailing odor, color and time of day it was observed, how frequently it happens, where it appears to originate, if there are any dead or dying aquatic life in the area, etc.
But he said you should not do any sampling, because there are very specific sampling methods used, depending on what the pollutant is, for collecting and preserving samples, down to the type of containers used for each type of chemical or biological analysis.
Q: I recently went to a local restaurant and was denied using a coupon that was 4 years old. But there was no expiration date on the coupon. Is there a so-called statute of limitation on a coupon that has no expiration date on it?
A: Unlike gift certificates, coupons are not governed by any specific consumer protection law, according to Stephen Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection.
"It really depends on the facts of each particular situation, but the preferable practice is to have an expiration date on a coupon," he said. "If it's not on there, it wouldn't be unreasonable for a consumer to believe it had no expiration date."
You can file a complaint with Consumer Protection. Call 587-3222 or go to www.hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/ocp.
State law requires businesses to honor gift certificates for a minimum of two years from the date of issuance. If there is no expiration date on the certificate, it should be honored for as long as the company remains in business.
However, Levins previously pointed out that the law applies only to certificates in which the issuer has received full payment for its face value; it does not cover gift certificates issued at a discount or as a bonus.
Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to email@example.com
. See also: Useful phone numbers