Navy Pays EPA Fine to Settle Cesspool Case

An aerial view of ships moored at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in June 2016. U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Ace Rheaume
An aerial view of ships moored at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in June 2016. U.S. Navy Combat Camera photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Ace Rheaume

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled a case with the Navy involving illegal cesspools at Pearl Harbor.

The EPA announced the closure of the case after the Navy paid a $94,212 fine in September for violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act concerning three large cesspools. The Navy also shut down the cesspools from 2016 to February and replaced them with wastewater treatment systems approved by the EPA.

"Our Navy is not perfect, but we are committed to confronting what is not right or not in the nation's best interest," said Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of the Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, in a statement Wednesday.

The federal government in 2005 banned the use of large-capacity cesspools that serve multiple dwellings.

After Pearl Harbor Naval Base and Hickam Air Force Base combined operations in 2010, the Navy learned the base had nine large-capacity cesspools. In 2012 the Navy closed six cesspools "but failed to close the remaining three in a timely manner," the EPA said.

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.

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