Shrimp Farm Public Hearing set for November 23rd at Waimea Theatre

The state Department of Health will hold a public hearing on a proposed draft discharge permit for the Sunrise Capital shrimp farm at 6 p.m. Nov. 23 at Waimea Theatre, 9691 Kaumuali‘i Highway.         

                                                       

Written statements will also be accepted until 4:30 p.m. Nov. 23, by e-mailing cleanwaterbranch@doh.hawaii.gov or by mail to Clean Water Branch, Environmental Management Division, State Department of Health, 919 Ala Moana Blvd., Room 301, Honolulu, HI 96814.

The proposed draft permit is available for public inspection Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., at the CWB office in Honolulu and the Kaua‘i DOH District Health Office, 3040 ‘Umi St., Lihu‘e. It is also available online at www.hawaii.gov/health/environmental/water/cleanwater/index.html.

For more information, call toll-free 274-3141, then 6-4309# after the recorded message. 

The public hearing is a direct result of community concerns about Sunrise Capital Shrimp Farm’s plan to expand operations.  

Sunrise Capital needs the DOH to sign off on the permit so the shrimp farm can discharge up to 30 million gallons of wastewater effluent and treated shrimp remains into the ocean on a daily basis.

Originally owned and operated by Ceatech USA, the shrimp farm was acquired by Sunrise Capital in June 2005 and is currently operating at minimal capacity.

Residents are concerned with Sunrise Capital’s plan to expand its operations in part because of their experience with the farm under Ceatech.

                                                                                              

The previous owner operated the shrimp farm at full capacity from February 2000 to December 2003 until it became infected with a shrimp virus in 2004.

George Chamberlain, the president of Global Aquaculture and an owner of Integrated Aquaculture, which purchased the farming operation last year has said the shrimp farm is committed to sustainability and understands how to control the white spot syndrome virus.

Efforts to reduce nutrient levels to “very” diluted levels to mitigate waste matter have been taken seriously, he said in an April interview before the public comment period on the permit closed.

The level of discharge is expected to be lower than the proposed amount at around 12 million gallons a day when operating at full speed with all 50 ponds, which vary from one to one-quarter acre in size, Chamberlain said.

The facility has also put measures in place such as plastic-lined ponds with a drainage system that periodically removes settled matter and a skimmer system that discards floating material, according to Clean Water Branch officials.

While the shrimp farm has won the support of some agribusiness owners and aquaculture program managers for its ability to diversify the state’s agricultural activities on Kaua‘i and provide jobs, many of the 167 comments received during the public feedback period expressed serious concern over the proposal.

                                              

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