Waikamoi Farmer Faces Land Dispute, Gun Threats & Water Poisoning
Lifetime farmer of the abundant watershed of Waikamoi, Jesse Nakaoka and his wife Ona expose multiple counts of environmental crimes. The roadwork along the Hana Highway has been a busy place with multiple road repairs. Three different major areas being worked on means that many trucks are taking loads of heavy debris out of the remote east end of Maui. So one thought.
Come to find out, the rubbish from the Hana Highway work has been taken and dumped on a Wahinepe‘e property that is in a tangled land dispute with Alexander and Baldwin (A&B), a previous East Maui Irrigation (EMI) employee and current said land partial lessee. Hawaiian Dredging has been dumping the waste from job sites at this pasture location and burying (backfilling) the pasture with a combination of the cold mix asphalt dug up from the Hana Highway, including petrochemical base compounds, oil liners, plastic delineators, wooden pallets, mixing these highway and job site wastes in with gravel and topping the pile with gravel and cinder to conceal the debris.
This dumping has occurred over the last six months. To add insult to injury, Nakaoka hasn’t been able to return to his home on the property because of a restraining order he has on the said A&B land lessee namely, Hanalei Day. A few months ago his farmworker was shot by Mr. Hanalei Day with an AR15. An investigation is still strangely pending and recent events have sorely thwarted the situation to him having broke his restraining order and he is awaiting arrest.
The watershed damage that occurred due to this gross negligence can be seen most clearly in the livestock of the lessee. The animals appear to be suffering from bone deterioration because of the contaminated water they are drinking.
While legal begals compare notes, scurry to their insurance companies and ground workers look over their shoulders, Nakaoka’s legal team is ahead of the curve. Samples of all kinds are awaiting test results but in the mean time, animals are dying. A sick cow believed to have been tortured by the poisoned waters was dying earlier this week on Nakaoka’s property.
Family and supporters of Jesse and Ona Nakaoka have pledged to stand by their side in demanding immediate remediation of the property’s integrity. Their demands include that a different outfit conduct the cleanup rather than the same company that backfilled the area with petro chemical ground cover. A ten page legal document was sent to all involved entities and was received on Wednesday. The only reply to date is the Maui County Corporate Counsel who instructed the Nakaoka’s to call the Humane Society which was the first thing they had done weeks ago.
The family sits uneasy with the idea that legal timeline will suspend cleanup and they have made desperate pleas to local government officials to step in as environmental regulators while the courts take the course.
Excerpted legal brief below.
FULL LEGAL BRIEF:
HAWAIIAN DREDGING CONSTRUCTION INC IS BACKFILLING THE PASTURE AT 10600 HANA HWY WITH WASTE FROM JOB SITES IN THE VICINITY WHICH INCLUDES OLD ASPHALT, COLD MIX AND OTHER PETROCHEMICALS, INCLUDING PLASTIC DELINEATORS AND OTHER JOB SITE WASTE, AND THIS DISPOSAL OF WASTE HAS SEEPED INTO THE GROUNDWATER THROUGHOUT THE AREA, CAUSING CONTAMINANTS TO SPREAD FOR MILES AND THEIR CONCENTRATIONS TO ESCALATE TO DANGEROUSLY HIGH LEVELS. THIS HAS CONTAMINATED AREA DRINKING WATER WELLS THAT HAVE CAUSED PLAINTIFFS AND THEIR LIVESTOCK AND CROPS TO SUFFER HEALTH EFFECTS CAUSED BY THE CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO ELEVATED CONTAMINANTS AND THESE CONTAMINANTS HAVE ALSO CAUSED DIMINISHED PROPERTY VALUES.
AG. On 03-31-20, by means of observation and documentation through photos and video, it became clear that Hawaiian Dredging Construction, INC was subleasing a portion of the pasture in dispute from East Maui Irrigation to serve as a baseyard for their State of Hawaii Department of Transportation Highways Division contract to repair two sections of Hana Highway in the vicinity in KAILUA and WAILUA NUI. Hawaiian Dredging Construction INC has been dumping the waste from both job sites at this pasture location and burying (backfilling) the pasture with a combination of the cold mix asphalt dug up from the Hana Highway, including petrochemical base compounds, oil liners, plastic delineators, wooden pallets, mixing these highway and job site wastes in with gravel and topping the pile with gravel and cinder to conceal the debris. It is estimated at this time that Hawaiian Dredging did backfill a corner of the pasture with waste which encompasses an area of 4000 sq ft wide by 20ft tall.
AH. On 03-31-20, by means of observation and documentation through photos and video, it became clear that the cows in the pasture below the Hawaiian Dredging Construction INC job site were ill. Many of them were skinny and looked weak, many were sitting in unusual manners on the pasture hillside. The cows were sitting down with their back legs extended out to the side instead of under them. Blood samples from these cows have been collected.
AI. On 04-02-20, by means of observation and documentation through photos and video, it is clear the water table below the pasture is contaminated with petrochemicals, and other substances obtained by the refining and processing of petroleum or natural gas. This is the only water source for the animals in this pasture and the petrochemical film can be seen atop the water’s surface and water / soil samples have been taken. It is clear the animals are experiencing health issues from the contamination of their water source. Blood samples from these cows have been collected.
AJ. Beginning on 04-03-20, by means of a telephone call and follow-up emails, Officer Redd and Officer White of the Animal Humane Society Police were notified about the condition of the cows and the water contamination issue. Email correspondence dated 04-02-20.
AK. Your witness today, DEMANDS that County of Maui and Maui Police Department conduct a thorough investigation of the incidents that occurred and are occurring at 10600 Hana Hwy Haiku, HI 96708 and immediately administer the appropriate criminal charges.
AL. Your witness today, DEMANDS that East Maui Landholdings, LLC., East Maui Irrigation, Alexander and Balding INC Mahi Pono Holdings, Alexander & Baldwin INC. and its sub-lessors Larry George Alexander and Henry Hanalei Day, are condemned from the noted TMK parcels in dispute.
AM. Your witness today, DEMANDS Hawaiian Dredging Construction INC. to cease and desist its access and activities on the property in dispute, stop its wrongful discharge, establish a clean drinking water source for tenants and livestock in the area, be ordered to pay for clean-up by a non-affiliated contractor, be ordered to pay for remediation of the soils by a non-affiliated contractor, and compensate affected residents for the decrease in property values, health effects and all future medical monitoring caused by the contamination.
AN. Failure to acknowledge and remedy the above mentioned conditions of FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE shall invite suit for which all parties listed and employees found to be culpable shall be held personally liable, jointly and severally.
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