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DOH fines Navy $8.7M for repeated sewage discharge near Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor
Catherine Cruz
Pearl Harbor

The state Department of Health is fining the U.S. Navy $8.7 million for dumping untreated, or partially treated, sewage into state waters from its treatment center near Pearl Harbor.

The department has also ordered the Navy to repair its Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Wastewater Treatment Plant on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The fine covers 766 counts of discharging pollutants and more than 200 maintenance and operation failures.

In a press release, DOH Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho said the Navy failed to properly operate the treatment plant and polluted the ocean.

Ho said the department is holding the Navy accountable to "prevent a potential catastrophic failure” in the future.

Earlier this year, the Navy contracted a $30 million project to modernize this facility. That work is expected to be completed by March 2024.

Navy Region Hawaiʻi said the Navy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed in June 2021 to address deficiencies with the treatment plant. The Navy said it's on track to meet these obligations, which may also address some of the issues pointed out by the Department of Health.

The Navy said it continues to improve operations at the plant, which remains operational.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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