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StarBulletin.com

City's alleged dumping in stream investigated


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POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A number of government agencies are investigating the alleged illegal dumping of concrete by the city in a stream frequented by endangered Hawaiian stilts on the Waianae Coast.

State Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the dumping of construction materials requires a permit and there are no permits on record for the work in her department.

“;We haven't issued any permits for that dumping,”; she said yesterday.

The alleged dumping occurred in Maili at the Mailiili Stream, about two miles mauka of Farrington Highway.

City spokesman Bill Brennan said the city is also looking into the incident.

Brennan said his understanding is that concrete rubble from sidewalk repairs was placed in the stream area to restore an access road along the bank that was used to cut brush.

He said the city employees were unaware that a permit might have been needed for the work.

Brennan said heavy equipment removed material from the area Saturday and put it in a landfill.

“;Apparently the area had not been maintained for some time and neighboring properties had used the city flood-control area and access roads along the top of the flood-control bank as storage and for their personal use and to let their horses run free,”; Brennan said.

He said the city removed only the sidewalk material not in the stream.

He said the city might need a permit to remove the sidewalk material in the stream.

Other agencies investigating the dumping include the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Corps spokesman Dino Buchanan said his agency is investigating whether there was a violation and what, if any, fines might be levied.

The investigations were prompted by requests last week from the group EnviroWatch Inc.

EnviroWatch founder Carroll Cox said he received a complaint from city workers who told him that the dumping had been occurring on weekends for the past two years.

Cox said at least one high-ranking official in the city Department of Facility Maintenance was aware of the dumping and had told him some 100 truckloads had been dumped in the area.

“;You can't mistakenly dump something for two years,”; Cox said.

Cox said he's familiar with the area and knows of about 20 endangered Hawaiian stilts that built their nests in the wetlands area of the stream.

He said the concrete has narrowed the area of nesting and allowed predators such as mongoose and feral cats to have an easier time crossing wetland areas to get to the endangered birds.

Cox said although the city has accepted responsibility, he's worried that city workers will try to clean the area without proper supervision.

He said the city needs to consult with a number of agencies and seek the proper permits for removal.

Cox said he was upset that the city was the violator and he felt officials needed to be held accountable.

“;What kind of example are they setting for other people?”; he asked.