Vials of blood and used needles were among the trash that washed down in the waters below the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill in January of 2011.
The operator, Waste Management of Hawaii, had some explaining to do.
It maintained it was two to three weeks from completing a new diversion system when a huge storm hit and what was in place failed to contain the runoff and the trash.
"Due to the nature of the storm and the serverity it quickly failed,” said Joseph Whelan
But a federal grand jury indicted Vice President Joe Whelan and environmental manager Justin Lottig on 13 criminal charges.
The indictment included violating the Clean Water Act, and conspiring and lying to state and federal regulators to cover up a situation that lead to the polluting of Oahu’s coastal waters.
"The allegations are simply not true. We reject them all,” said Honolulu Attorney Bill McCorriston.
McCorriston maintains the actions of two company individuals was not criminal.
"They managed the process of documenting the permits correctly. Perhaps some minor administrative mistakes were made, but certainly nothing to rise to the level of criminal conduct," McCorriston said.
Court documents made reference to other unindicted co-conspirators including an engineer who apparently lied about a manhole being closed, when he knew it had been left open to be used as an overflow drain.
The enforcement action was lauded by environmental advocate Carroll Cox, who first complained to city and state regulators that a paper trail suggested something was not right at the landfill.
"My hat is off the U.S. Attorney. I encourage them to look at many more. It's about time the sheriff came to town in Hawaii to really take legal action, but criminal action not just civil actions as we have seen," said Cox who runs Envirowatch.
Cox alluded to a fine of $2 million dating back to previous violations.
Meanwhile, the city tried to reassure the public about the current state of the landfill.
A statement released by Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said, "Corrective measures have been taken to protect against such an event reoccuring, and the City is satisfied with the ongoing operations of the landfill."
If the two landfill operators are convicted they face a potential prison sentence and hundreds of thousand of dollars in finds for each criminal felony count.