EPA, Hawaii Agency Seek Additional $135,000 For Failure To Meet Restoration Work Deadlines Under Settlement

EPA and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) recently assessed an additional $135,000 in stipulated penalties against James H. Pflueger for failure to comply with a court order settling Clean Water Act violations for construction activities on Pflueger's property at Pila'a on Kaua'i.

A June consent decree required Pflueger to complete specific restoration and repair work by the end of October. Work hasn't begun in the specified areas outlined in the consent decree. Although Pflueger recently notified EPA and DOH he would not be able to comply with the schedule, no valid reason was provided, prompting the assessement of the stipulated penalties, the federal agency stated on Nov. 28.

"EPA included stipulated penalties as part of the consent decree specifically to avoid slippage in the schedules," said Alexis Strauss, water division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest Region. "The court order clearly states Pflueger must meet these deadlines to assure the work is completed. We will continue to oversee all aspects of this agreement to ensure protection of the ocean and reef ecosystems at Pila'a."

The current action builds upon other stipulated penalties of $23,500 being sought by EPA for missed deadlines on an abandoned supplemental environmental project that would have replaced cesspools in the Kalihiwai area on Kaua'i. Pflueger chose instead to pay an additional fine of $221,000 in place of completing the project, as provided by the settlement.

The June settlement included the payment of $2 million in penalties to the state and the federal government. Pflueger will spend about $5.3 million on the remaining work required by the settlement to prevent erosion and restore streams in areas damaged by the construction activity.

Pflueger's property at Pila'a encompasses about 378 acres of coastal property on Kaua'i. Pflueger conducted grading and other land-disturbing construction at the site beginning in 1997 without obtaining permits. The activities included cutting away a hillside to create a 40-foot vertical road cut, grading a coastal plateau, creating new access roads to the coast, and placing dirt and rock fill into three perennial streams. The construction activity resulted in discharges of sediment-laden stormwater flowing into the Pacific Ocean at Pila'a Bay, damaging a beachfront home, the beach and coral reefs.

For more information, go to http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/npdes/pflueger/index.html.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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