Kauai sues Hawaii over pesticides

SORCE: Phoebe Eng (phoebeeng@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD:  Lawsuit against ADC and DoH for violations of US Clean Water Act & State Constitution.

By Staff on 25 July 2016 for Earth Justice -

Image above: A polluted ditch on ADC managed land on the westside From original article.

Community groups sue Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) and Hawaii State Department of Health DOH for polluting West Kauai waters and allowing it to be done. They colluded in violations of US Clean Water Act & State Constitution.

Earthjustice, on behalf of community groups Na Kia‘i Kai, Surfrider Foundation, and Pesticide Action Network, sued Hawaii’s Agribusiness Development Corporation today for violating the Clean Water Act by polluting waters along Kauai’s West Side, and both ADC and the state Department of Health for abdicating their constitutional duties to conserve and protect these water resources.

ADC operates a 40-mile drainage ditch system that each day funnels millions of gallons of polluted drainage waters from the Mānā Plain into the ocean near Kekaha and Waimea.

The open ditches weave past thousands of acres of pesticide-intensive genetically engineered seed operations, a landfill, a wastewater treatment plant, and populated areas before emptying into popular recreational sites like Majors Bay, Kinikini Ditch, MacArthur Beach Park, and Kikiaola Harbor.

For decades, the drainage ditch system was subject to regulatory oversight, pollution monitoring, and public reporting under a federal Clean Water Act permit issued by the Department of Health.  But last August, ADC decided that it couldn’t be bothered to comply with the law and withdrew its permit renewal application.

In May, the community groups provided ADC notice of their intent to sue and an opportunity to comply with the law.  Rather than obtaining a permit or ceasing pollution, ADC continued fouling West Kaua‘i waters.

Instead of requiring a permit for the drainage ditch system like it had for decades, the Department of Health condoned ADC’s permit-free pollution.

“It’s bad enough that ADC thinks it’s above the law.  It’s even worse that the Hawaii Department of Health, the agency charged with enforcing the law, is giving ADC a pass, leaving communities and visitors at risk,” said Earthjustice attorney Kylie Wager.

“Native Hawaiians have been fishing in these waters for generations to feed our families,” said Na Kia‘i Kai member Gilroy Yorkman.  “Without regulation and monitoring, we have no way to know whether the water is safe for our food and our children.”

Many people fish, swim, surf, and boat near the pollution outfalls, where the water quality fails to meet state standards.

The Department of Health, the state Department of Agriculture, ADC, and community groups have found toxic pesticides and chemicals like atrazine, chlorpyrifos, glyphosate, metolachlor, arsenic, and selenium in the drainage ditch system along with other pollutants.

“Agriculture and health officials are ignoring potential pesticide contamination from genetically engineered seed operations, and allowing chemical-laden water to flow downstream.

By shirking their responsibilities under the law, ADC and the Department of Health are permitting public spaces — and fisheries that people rely on for food — to be contaminated with hazardous pesticides." said Paul Towers, Organizing Director for Pesticide Action Network.

“Surfrider Foundation is committed to providing clean and safe coastal waters for beachgoers to enjoy in Kauai and around the nation.  Protecting water quality is of the utmost importance for public health, and we will work tirelessly to defend it,” said Angela T. Howe, Esq., Legal Director for the Surfrider Foundation.

In its complaint the community groups alleged federal Clean Water Act violations against ADC, and violation of the public trust under the Hawaii Constitution against both ADC and the Department of Health.  ADC must respond to the community groups’ complaint within 21 days.


No comments :

Post a Comment