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Friday, December 22, 2000

EPA fines HECO
for permit violations

Star-Bulletin staff

A $200,000 fine has been levied against Hawaiian Electric by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says it found the utility in violation of Clean Water Act and water discharge permit requirements.

In announcing the fine yesterday, EPA said violations at HECO's Honolulu and Waiau plants could have led to toxic pollutants being discharged into both Honolulu Harbor and Pearl Harbor.

The EPA said the violations stemmed from inadequate monitoring of discharges containing harmful pollutants.

"Accurate self-monitoring of runoff and wastewater discharge is essential to maintain healthy waters throughout Hawaii," said Alexis Strauss, an EPA water director. "Diligent oversight of the permit requirements by these facilities will minimize the amount of harmful pollutants discharged into the harbors."

Company spokesman Chuck Freedman said while HECO takes such matters very seriously, the violations were of a technical nature. Certain procedures needed to be corrected, but the company has always been in compliance with water discharge standards, he said. These were procedural violations, not actual negative impacts on the environment, Freedman said.

"We've already taken the corrective actions on them," he added. "This audit took place over a year ago." HECO and EPA worked out a consent agreement.

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