The U.S. Environmental Agency has settled a case with the Navy involving illegal cesspools at Pearl Harbor.
The Navy has paid a $94,212 fine for violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act concerning three large cesspools. In response to the EPA, the Navy shut down the cesspools between 2016 to February and replaced them with wastewater treatment systems approved by the EPA.
In a news release, Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of the Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said, “Just recently, we closed legacy cesspools that predated joint-basing in order to comply with state law. Our Navy is not perfect, but we are committed to confronting what is not right or not in the nation’s best interest. We are accountable for our actions, and we are committed to doing the right thing.”
The Pearl Harbor Naval Station and Hickam Air Force Base combined operations in 2010. Through an audit, the Navy later learned the Joint Base had nine large-capacity cesspools.
In 2005, the federal government banned the use of large capacity cesspools that serve multiple dwellings.
Cesspools discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground where harmful bacteria and chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. The ban does not apply to single-family homes with cesspools.
In 2012, the Navy closed six cesspools “but failed to close the remaining three in a timely manner,” the EPA said. The federal agency discovered the continued use of the three cesspools during inspections conducted in May 2013. The cesspools served approximately 160 personnel at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam munitions storage area, hangar and troop mobilization area.