Ever since Hunt Companies Inc. took over management of more than 500 acres of land at Kalaeloa in 2009, keeping ahead of illegal dumpers has been a major concern.
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"We've probably taken away about 40 containers worth of waste over the last five years," said Jose Bustamante, Hunt's vice president of development in Hawaii. "I would say we spent close to $200,000 to clean up this area."
Last Friday afternoon, an employee who was inside Hunt's management office near Saratoga Avenue and Bennington Street noticed two large dump trucks on the company's surveillance cameras. The Hunt employee watched as the driver of one of the trucks began dumping fill-type material on the vacant land.
"It was completely reckless," said Bustamante. "I mean, this is land that we are working to develop."
The truck that deposited the load near Hunt's management office belongs to Island Hauling Inc., based in Kaneohe. When reached by phone, Island Hauling president Chad Kobayashi told KITV4 his driver panicked when it appeared she was losing her load, and she planned on going back to pick it up.
"A driver tracked her down to tell her she was dumping material onto the road, so she left it there to stop a bigger disaster," said Kobayashi.
Island Hauling made good on its promise as KITV4 interviewed Bustamante about the dumping. The same driver who left the material on Hunt's property showed up to take it away. When KITV4 asked what happened last Friday, the woman replied, "I have no comment."
Bustamante doesn't believe the material would have been removed had Hunt not contacted the media. Hunt has already filed a police report and plans to continue its case against Island Hauling.
"Our attorneys are getting together today to discuss this issue and we will be filing charges shortly," said Bustamante.
The situation with illegal dumping in Kalaeloa is no surprise to Councilwoman Kymberly Pine. Pine has introduced three bills to tackle the problem head-on, including one measure that increases the current $1,000 fine for those who dump illegally.
"If you do illegal dumping, we increase the fine by 500 percent," said Pine. "If you're a repeat offender, we increase it by a thousand percent."
As KITV4 was videotaping the pile of material left by Island Hauling, an inspector with the city's Department of Planning and Permitting arrived to take pictures. However, the inspector did not have the authority to deliver a citation. He explained citations for illegal dumping can only be issued if there's about 100 cubic yards of material, and since Kalaeloa is controlled by the U.S. Navy, DPP doesn't have jurisdiction.
When told of DPP's position, Pine said there are many aspects of illegal dumping laws that need to be changed.
"We need to re-evaluate everything that relates to illegal dumping and how we prosecute those crimes," said the councilwoman. "I think there's a lot of weakness in our laws, and the few bills that I introduced will address some of them."
State Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said Island Hauling could have faced a solid waste violation if the pile left on Hunt's property was contaminated with hazardous material. She said the incident was likely under the jurisdiction of police.