Eco-friendly wastewater pollution

SUBHEAD: Shrimp farm committed to eco-friendly sustainability while expelling up to 30 million gallons of wastewater effluent and treated shrimp remains into the ocean daily.

By Coco Zickos on 3 April 2010 in The Garden Island -  

Image above: The overflow weir on Kekaha’s shrimp farm discharge ditch is currently unused. Photo supplied by George Chamberland.  

[Editor's note: "Shrimp farm committed to sustainability" is the title of this article and is high on the recent list of disingenuous hype that have made the way to the top of the front page of the Garden Island. There is no way a that the daily dumping of 30 million gallons of putrid fishfarm waste onto a living reef is sustainable. It is the antithesis. As of now the shrimp farm volume is so low that no waste water needs to be emitted into the ocean. If Sunrise Capital wants to raise shrimp they should do it at a scale, and with techniques, that do not require polluting the ocean. Moreover, what we should be doing is restoring the natural wetlands of the westside of Kauai. Besides Pearl Harbor, Mana wetlands were the most important source of bird and fish diversity in Hawaii. Now they support the US military and GMO mutated crops. We don't want either. Kauai was fortunate that the last time this shrimp-farm operation went viral that we escaped an uncontrolled spread of shellfish disease. For some history see the TGI articles on closing of and quarantine of this same plant in 2004 when a virus wiped out this plant.]
Although Sunrise Capital is seeking a permit to expel up to 30 million gallons of wastewater effluent and treated shrimp remains into the ocean daily, the Kekaha aquaculture operation is committed to implementing sustainable and eco-friendly practices, George Chamberlain said this week.

“Everything I stand for is to do things in an environmentally sustainable way,” he said. Chamberlain is president of Global Aquaculture and an owner of Integrated Aquaculture, which purchased the farming operation last year.

Efforts to reduce nutrient levels to “very” diluted levels to mitigate waste matter have been taken seriously, he said Thursday. The operation has been running at minimal levels over the past year with only a “skeleton crew.”

Plastic-lined ponds include a drain system which periodically removes “settled matter,” along with a “skimmer system” which discards “floating material,” according to Department of Health Clean Water Branch officials.

“The nutrient levels in the immediate vicinity of the discharge into the receiving ocean waters are expected to be elevated from ambient conditions,” CWB officials wrote in an e-mail. “However, the adjacent coastal ocean area is not expected to have any noticeable effect associated with the shrimp farm discharge.”

The level of discharge is expected to be lower than the proposed amount at around 12 million gallons a day when operating “at full speed” with all 50 ponds, which vary from one to one-quarter acre in size, Chamberlain said.

“Exactly whether we need that quantity is still a question,” Chamberlain said regarding the amount in the Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination application. “Our future is still uncertain.”
Kama‘aina who frequent the neighboring surf spots such as Kinikinis, Major’s Bay and Family Housing are not confident the environment will be unaffected.

Remembering the “oily, filmy and stinky” water when the farm — owned by Ceatch USA at the time — was operating at full capacity from February 2000 to December 2003, Lawa‘i resident Derek Pellin said he is concerned similar effects will happen again.

“You could almost taste it through your skin,” he said last week.

Pellin noted that he can now see the reef there again. “It’s the first time I’ve seen color. Before, you couldn’t even see your feet.”

Often taking his family to the Westside location, Pellin questioned if the discharge permit would even be a consideration at a more popular beach such as Po‘ipu.

“Maybe our lives not as worthy,” he said.

Chamberlain said the shrimp farm was “never out of compliance” during its years of operation. Historical data demonstrates “no perceptible effect to the coastal water quality,” according to CWB officials.

“This is due in part because the coastal waters in the area have very good water circulation and/or current flow which aids in the natural assimilation and renewal of the ocean waters,” the CWB said. “Additionally, the concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus from the agriculture or aquaculture discharges to the area are much lower than those found in discharges from other domestic or animal wastewater treatment facilities.”

The prospective discharge will join the area’s agriculture run-off which has been dispelled for “close to 100 years,” Chamberlain said. “There has never been any effect over the entire period.”
Chamberlain said it is “with great confidence” that he can say there will be “no effect” to the environment.

Nonetheless, Jason Badua, born and raised on the Westside, said he is “very concerned about this potentially huge source of water pollution.”

“The pollution from unintended agricultural runoff on this island is already bad enough,” he said. “We shouldn’t be adding to it by allowing intentional pollution. I care deeply about this island. This is home.”

Badua, an avid surfer, also raises concern about the “daily dumping of shrimp remains and effluent” which “sharks may become habituated into showing up for free meals served every day.”

Business proposal
Sunrise Capital intends to expand its operations to include a variety of species including moi, kahala and possibly tuna, Chamberlain said.

The aquaculture farm expects to produce several species which would be “sold fresh” only within the state, he said.

“Not attempting to produce any large quantities of any one species to the point of having to freeze and send to the Mainland” is the company’s objective, Chamberlain said. “The minute we have to freeze and process converts the product to a less valuable form.”

Using the most advanced technology and “selectively breeding ... genetically improved animals” will also be part of Sunrise Capital’s “step-by-step process” in the coming years, he said.

Clams and oysters may also be harvested, which would help to “remove the tint of algae” from the wastewater discharge, he said. “Our objective is to recycle and reuse as much as we can.”

Harvesting algae or biofuel could be another possibility in the company’s future.

“Our goal is not so much to ramp up” to a full-scale operation right away, Chamberlain said.
However, within the next year and into 2011, the farm should be performing at a larger capacity, he said.

“This could be quite a benefit to Kaua‘i,” Chamberlain said. “Our goal is to try to make a showcase and have something Kaua‘i can be proud of.”

Water source
To meet its daily fluid needs, Sunrise Capital will only use sea water pumped in from a 550-foot deep well which goes “directly to the farm.”

The water will travel through a volcanic lava bed and will be “filtered over a mile of lava rock,” Chamberlain said. “What comes out of ground is clean, pure ocean water and has essentially very low organic mater.”

In addition, the ponds contain a plastic lining which will make them “totally impermeable” to the ground.

Shrimp virus
The white spot syndrome virus that plagued the farm several years ago, causing the business to cease operations in 2004, had “never been identified in Hawai‘i before,” Chamberlain said.
“What happened to the previous owners was a very unfortunate event,” he said. “It was catastrophic.”
Sunrise Capital “understands what happened to the virus and we know how to control that,” Chamberlain said.
The disease can be transmitted by birds and the company plans on “putting bird netting over the ponds.”
Visit to review a copy of the Draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination application or visit the Kaua‘i District DOH office, 3040 Umi St., Lihu‘e.

Comments must be sent by April 10 to Clean Water Branch, Environmental Management Division, Department of Health, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 301, Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 96814-4920. Objections and requests for a public hearing should also be sent to that address.

Kekaha shrimp operation put under quarantine  

By Chris Cook on 17 April 2004 in The Garden Island - 

Shrimp from Ceatech's operation in Kekaha are under quarantine. An announcement from the state Department of Agriculture released Friday afternoon said the quarantine on the commercial shrimp farm was put into effect on Wednesday. The quarantine means no shrimp can be moved from the Ceatech Plantation.

A positive test on Ceatech shrimp showed the presumptive presence of the White Spot Syndrome Virus, according to the Department of Agriculture report. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the outbreak Friday to the Office of International Epizootes, the organization concerned with animal health and the international movement of animals.

"While WSSV is a highly contagious and fatal disease for shrimp and other crustaceans, it does not pose any threat to human health, even if affected shrimp are consumed," the report from the Department of Agriculture said. White spots show on the shrimp and rapid death usually follows, the report said. The positive test is the first known detection of the virus in an aquaculture facility in Hawai‘i. The virus has had outbreaks in Japan, China, Thailand, Korea, the Philippines and in Central and South America.

"Due to the isolation of the farm on Kaua‘i, there is an excellent chance of containing this outbreak and eradicating the disease," said Dr. James Foppoli, State Veterinarian with Department of Agriculture. A problem was noted in one of the 40 growing ponds used by Ceatech in the Kekaha area on April 1. Shrimp samples were then sent for testing to the Aquaculture Pathology Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson. The positive test result was reported to the Ceatech on April 14 and the company reported the situation to the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Veterinary Services Office in Honolulu, which then notified State Veterinarian, Dr. Foppoli.

On Wednesday evening Foppoll and Department of Agriculture chairperson Sandra Lee Kunimoto issued the quarantine. A stipulation of the quarantine is that no shrimp may be moved off the plantation without the authorization of the State Veterinarian. Animal disease control veterinarians from the Honolulu office of the USDA and from the State Department of Agriculture delivered the quarantine notice to Ceatech on Thursday.

 The veterinarians also initiated a "Foreign Animal Disease" investigation as required by USDA protocol, which among other things, involves trying to determine the possible source of the infection and prevent the spread of the disease. Additional samples were taken for testing and work has begun with Ceatech on a clean-up plan, according to the report. The quarantine is expected to be in effect until tests confirm that the facility is free of the disease.

 Last summer the Oceanic Institute in Waimanalo, O‘ahu provided a new line of Pacific white shrimp broodstock for testing to Ceatech. A report provided to The Garden Island said the shrimp were provided for on-farm growth evaluation trials. Ceatech's innovative farming system produces very high yields of distinctively high-quality table shrimp that are marketed in Hawai‘i and the U.S. Mainland under the trade name "Kauai Shrimp." The shrimp farm is in part located on former Kekaha Sugar lands that are leased from the State of Hawai‘i.

 Ceatech has offices in Honolulu where most business functions of the operation are undertaken. Studies show that the Mana Plain area where the Kekaha ponds are located are one of the preferred areas for shrimp aquaculture in Hawai‘i, due to abundant sunshine, isolation from urban areas, hot temperatures and the Westside's dry climate, according to a report found on Ceatech's Web site.


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