The State of Hawaii’s Department of Agribusiness Development Corporation was ruled to have polluted waters of West Kauai without a permit since 2015 by a federal judge, violating a federal Clean Water Act.
The ruling stems from the ADC lacking a permit to drain polluted waters since it’s permit expired in 2015. The water was found to contain the herbicide Glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer in 2 billion dollars in lawsuit winnings over the use of popular Glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup.
“Back in 2015 the State Agribusiness Development Corporation decided it no longer needed a permit, and therefore all of the pollutant discharges from the system had become completely unregulated.” said Earthjustice Attorney Kylie Wager Cruz.
The lawsuit against the ADC was brought by plaintiffs Na Kia’i Kai, Surfrider Foundation, and Pesticide Action Network North America. Kauai Surfrider Chapter Senior Scientist Carl J. Berg began testing the waters of the Mana plain in 2014 with troubling results.
“They were troubling because they’re some of the most ubiquitously used. Especially the Glyphosate, which is roundup.” Dr. Berg said.
“I don’t think people really get the significance of this. This is really a major finding that our government, DLNR, and Department of Health are not protecting the environment or protecting the health of us.” Dr. Berg added.
Glyphosate was one of 18 chemicals found by the Department of Health and U.S. Geological Survey. The waters drain into the Pacific Ocean near the popular recreation spots of Kekaha Beach and Barking Sands Beach.
“There is no public transparency about what the discharge waters contain and the outfalls are flowing right out into the ocean where people fish to feed their families. They’re gathering limu, they’re surfing at these outfalls, and so we brought this lawsuit to require more limits on what is being discharged into the ocean to keep people safe.” Wager Cruz said.
United States District Judge Derrick K. Watson handed down Summary Judgement. The ADC responded to KHON2’s request for an interview with this statement:
“ADC is currently reviewing the recent Court order to determine the best course of action regarding this matter. ADC and its tenants will continue to implement best management practices to care for the land and water, to monitor discharges, and to find better ways to improve the drainage system for the residential, commercial and farming community in Kekaha.”
The plaintiffs hope that the ADC either gets a permit quickly, or ceases operations.
“There is still more work to be done to figure out exactly what ADC will do and when, but from our perspective ADC either needs to go ahead and get a permit as soon as possible.” Wager Cruz said.
“If it doesn’t have one it’s violating the clean water act every day, or it should completely stop all of it’s discharges because it’s not allowed to pollute without a permit.” she added.
“I think that the way the Summary Judgement was set up there is a wonderful monitoring plan that has to be recognized by a reputable consulting company.” Berg said.
“We feel confident that it will be done once it begins to be enacted.”