STAR-BULLETIN / APRIL 2006
Ka Loko Reservoir is shown here a few weeks after it breached in March 2006, killing seven people. After the dam breach, the state Legislature gave the Department of Land and Natural Resources authority to inspect all dams in the state.
Pflueger fights dam inspection
The owner opposes a planned assessment, arguing that Ka Loko is no longer a dam
LIHUE » Dam owner James Pflueger is fighting an investigation and inspection of the Ka Loko Dam, which was breached in March 2006, sending floodwaters that killed seven people.
Pflueger-owned Pflueger Properties, through attorney William McCorriston, has asked the Department of Land and Natural Resources for a contested case hearing on whether to conduct a stability and safety inspection of Ka Loko.
According to department spokeswoman Deborah Ward, the inspection, called a Phase II, would involve taking soil borings and testing soil, taking studies into the dam's ability to take pressure, and other analysis.
McCorriston, however, argued in a petition to the Board of Land and Natural Resources that Ka Loko is no longer a dam.
He also argued that any study of the area while lawsuits are pending and possible criminal cases could still be brought is a violation of his client's constitutional rights.
The attorney general's office would not comment on any possible criminal investigation.
The staff recommendation, which will be discussed at Friday's Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting, is to allow a contested case hearing to go forward on whether Ka Loko is still a dam. The other request, to stop the inspection because of violation of Pflueger's rights, was suggested to be denied.
The Ka Loko breach in 2006 has spurred numerous lawsuits, including one by Pflueger against the DLNR for lack of oversight into the stability of the dam and the spillway.
That suit, as well as those brought by family members of victims in the flooding caused by the breach and property owners against Pflueger, the state and others, are scheduled for much of 2009 in Circuit Court in Lihue.
After the dam breach, the state Legislature, through Act 118, gave the DLNR authority and the finances to inspect all dams in the state, whether on private property or not.
The DLNR conducted Phase I visual inspections of all dams throughout the state and identified some, about 90, according to a report last year to the Legislature, as needing more review.
Ka Loko was not on that list.
McCorriston, in his petition, contends that the DLNR is subjecting only Ka Loko to the Phase II inspection and that it will likely try to collect from the landowner any expenses to conduct the inspection.
Friday, February 22, 2008
The state Board of Land and Natural Resources meets today at 9 a.m. Originally, this story incorrectly said the board met yesterday.