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Hawaii News

State will not budge on fine

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A $1.7 million fine levied against the city for illegally unloading hundreds of truckloads of concrete slabs into Mailiili Channel will not be dropped or reduced, a state Department of Health official decided this week.

The city had appealed the decision and fine, and even yesterday continued to maintain that the violation was unintentional and the fine excessive.

The department issued the $1.735 million fine in July after it determined that the city Department of Facility Maintenance had placed 257 truckloads into the channel on 257 occasions between February 2008 and May 2009.

The city said employees decided to put the concrete waste, left over from sidewalk paving projects, into the channel to support heavy equipment used to help clear vegetation to reduce the potential for flooding.

Concrete waste is considered a water pollutant under state environmental laws.

The city had always intended to remove the concrete from the channel bed and dispose of the debris at the PVT Land Co. landfill in Waianae, city officials said.

The health agency said the city did not correct the situation for more than a year after the vegetation-clearing project had been completed.

Joanne Hao, the health agency’s hearings officer, said the penalty policy that was applied was "appropriate, fair and reasonable" and that the city could have been fined up to $6.4 million given the facts of the case.

In an e-mail statement, acting Facility Maintenance Director Keoki Miyamoto said the city is considering an appeal while undertaking a remediation plan.

Training procedures have been strengthened and new internal controls have been put in place to ensure the same thing does not happen again, he said.

Miyamoto did not mention whether an internal investigation of the matter had been completed.

The section of channel bed where the concrete was unloaded is frequented by endangered Hawaiian stilts.

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