City should clean up its act
at sewage treatment plant


The federal government orders the city to comply with standards for discharges or face big fines.

THE city administration's delay in bringing the Sand Island sewage plant up to federal environmental standards may risk the fiscal and physical health of taxpayers. The public is due an explanation about why the project -- which was to have been completed in July -- will not be on line until December 2003.

Since 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has waived the city from complying with federal Clean Water Act standards that require sewage be treated to remove potentially harmful bacteria before being discharged into the ocean. When EPA extended the permit in 1998, the agency required that the city disinfect the wastewater and install equipment to do so by July 2002. The EPA last week cited the city for continuing to allow discharges containing unacceptable levels of bacteria as well as the pesticides chlordane and dieldrin. It ordered the city to submit a plan and compliance schedule by Dec. 1 or risk fines of up to $27,500 a day.

The bacteria may not pose an immediate threat to public safety or the environment, the state Health Department says. The concern about the presence of the long-banned pesticides may be an indication of residues leaching from the ground into water, then into sewer lines. However, the EPA, which issued a similar order in 1999, says permit levels were set to protect public health and even at those less-than-stringent benchmarks, the city is still in violation.

In response, the administration pointed the finger at the public. Managing Director Ben Lee said the EPA's non-compliance notice indicates that "people may also be pouring pesticides down the drain." He does not explain how the public would have obtained the banned chemicals. Further, the uncommunicative administration would not explain why the disinfection facility has yet to be built. Mayor Jeremy Harris's spokeswoman refused to provide details and would only say that the project is "very complex" and that the city has "run into some delays."

The EPA's order comes a few months after the administration and the City Council battled over the propriety of shifting $60 million from the sewer fund to balance the mayor's budget proposal when the cost of improvements -- many of them required to meet federal standards -- was estimated at $1 billion. Now the threat of thousands in daily fines hangs over the city and taxpayers.


Quiet neighborhoods
by banning roosters


The City Council has given preliminary approval of a ban on chickens in residential areas.

CROWING roosters have long been an annoyance in Honolulu's neighborhoods and a loud reminder of the continuing presence of illegal cockfighting activity. While the state Legislature has bowed to the pressure of criminal elements in refusing to make cockfighting a felony, the City Council is poised to render a serious blow to this illegal activity by banning chickens from residential areas. Such an ordinance would create tranquility that has been absent too long from many neighborhoods.

City ordinances already prohibit farm animals such as pigs and cattle from residential areas. The Council has given preliminary approval to a bill that would add chickens to that category. The proposed ordinance would require chickens to be kept in enclosures at least 300 feet from the nearest property line. In effect, a residential lot would have encompass nearly nine acres, with the chicken coop in the middle, to conform with such a restriction.

Councilman John DeSoto introduced the bill in response to complaints by constituents in Kapolei and nearby areas. "In modern Hawaii, we live close together," said Earl Arakaki of Ewa. "The time has come to accommodate the health and safety of the majority of our citizens and change the law."

Cockfighting enthusiasts were successful several years ago in persuading the Council to reject a similar proposal introduced by Councilman Duke Bainum, but none testified in the hearing on the DeSoto bill. They may have concluded that keeping their roosters in rural areas may be in their best interest by eliminating the annoyance to law-abiding residents.

Engaging in cockfighting in Hawaii is a misdemeanor that typically carries a fine of only $75, while gambling stakes in a cockfighting "derby" can exceed $250,000. The state Senate in the last Legislature approved a bill that would have made cockfighting a felony, but the bill was killed by House Judiciary Chairman Eric G. Hamakawa of the Big Island.

Hawaiian Humane Society representatives said Hamakawa told them that he has "a lot of cockfighting constituents." State legislators next year should refuse to buckle to constituents involved in crime and recognize cockfighting as a serious act of cruelty.


Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor 529-4762;

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4790;
John Flanagan, Contributing Editor 294-3533;

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

E-mail to Editorial Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --