Barbers Point pollution
case settled

Dry-dock operator Marisco will
pay a fine but admit no guilt

The company that runs Hawaii's largest commercial dry dock has reached a settlement with the state over alleged water pollution violations at Barbers Point Harbor.

Marisco Ltd. has agreed to pay the state Department of Health a minimum of $300,000 without admitting to state Department of Health allegations that the company polluted the harbor.

Payment could rise to $500,000 if Marisco's president, Fred Anawati, sells a majority of his company shares.

A June 25, 2002, Department of Health complaint alleged that Marisco allowed sandblasting grit, cooling water, oil, hydraulic fluids and other pollutants to enter the harbor on at least six occasions, including one release that lasted 33 or more days.

The complaint also alleged that required limits for copper, mercury, zinc, suspended solids and acidity had been exceeded in water samples.

Based on federal clean-water law, the infractions could have led to as much as $10.8 million in fines.

Had the Health Department sought that level of fine, Marisco "would fight the fine and their claims these are violations," Kyong-su Im, an attorney for Marisco, said yesterday.

The company maintains that "90 percent, if not more, of the allegations were related to reporting requirements," according to Marisco environmental compliance manager Steve Hinton.

Marisco had filed inadequate and late reports in the past that led the state to question whether it had released sandblasting grit into the harbor, Hinton said. The grit is used to take paint off boat hulls in dry dock.

Since he came to work for the company in November 2002, Hinton said Marisco has:

» Filed required reports completely and on time.

» Started tracking daily use and recovery of sandblast grit.

» Improved inspections of its dry docks for debris before lowering them into the water.

» Added buildings and concrete pads to land-side work areas.

"It's been a really solid, top-down effort" Hinton said. "In my professional opinion, it's working, or I wouldn't still be there."

Carroll Cox of EnviroWatch said he is not satisfied.

"I wouldn't describe this as a penalty," said Cox, a citizen who conducts his own investigations of things he deems environmental hazards. "He (Anawati) is not discouraged."

The state should require that Marisco document where it is disposing of the sandblasting grit, which can contain heavy metals and other toxins from the boat hulls, Cox said.

"We're being slowly poisoned while the DOH stands watch," Cox said.

The proposed settlement between the state and Marisco was announced by public notice in the Star-Bulletin on Monday but cannot be finalized until a 30-day public comment period has passed, Im said.

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