Monday, March 21, 2011



(PNN) -- The County of Kaua`i paid the Kekaha shrimp farm $250,000 in Oct. 2009 to settle a claim that birds were libel to spread the "white spot" virus from the county landfill to the adjacent aquaculture project, according to a settlement agreement released by the county late last week.
The disease shut down a prior attempt at shrimp farming at that location but the landfill was never identified as the source of the virus.

The agreement between farm owners Sunrise Capitol and the county contained a stipulation that the settlement remain confidential unless the information release was prompted by a request under HRS 92F, the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA)- a request that was filed by community watchdogs Glenn Mickens and Ken Taylor last week.

The settlement came after "Sunrise Capital, requested a contested case hearing with the Hawaii Department of Health relating to the application filed by the county for a Solid Waste Management Permit for the Kekaha Landfill" and sought "the imposition of permit conditions on the basis of risks to Sunrise’s shrimp farm" according to the agreement.

Under the settlement the county recognized "the immense economic and community benefit that the aquacultural industry provides to the Kekaha area, the Island of Kaua`i, and the State of Hawai`i as a whole" and "the need for support toward securing agricultural and aquacultural activities on Kaua'i."

It goes on to state that:

In conjunction with the termination of the contested case hearing against county, and in consideration of Sunrise's other agreements herein, the Agreement Between Sunrise Capital, hie. and County of Kaua`i County shall provide and pay to Sunrise the sum of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars And No/100 ($250,000.00) by way of reimbursement for costs and expenses incurred by Sunrise In risk mitigation measures to protect its shrimp farm from shrimp diseases.

The $250,000 is a cap to liability under the agreement meaning Sunrise cannot extract any more money from the county due to contamination from the landfill. Sunrise also had to provide the county with documentation and receipts to prove that the money was indeed spent for mitigation however no receipts were provided along with the settlement agreement released by a county council attorney, Legislative Analyst Peter Morimoto.

The agreement stipulated that:

Preliminary to the execution of this Agreement by the county and Sunrise, Sunrise has provided to the county documentation and studies related to the spread and outbreak of the white spot syndrome virus in shrimp. Sunrise has further represented to the county that Sunrise believes that the risk mitigation measures that Sunrise plans to undertake are appropriate given concerns with the expansion of the Kekaha Landfill and will help promote the security of Sunrise's shrimp aquaculture activities in Kekaha.

The settlement also calls for "an ordinance to ban commercial and nonresidential raw, uncooked shrimp from the Kekaha Landfill and landfills operated by the county concern with potential contamination."

An ordinance was passed shortly after the agreement was signed with that provision buried in an otherwise unremarkable bill dealing with the landfill and the county's Solid Waste Division under the Department of Public Works.

The agreement calls for the county to:

instruct its site controllers at the Kekaha Landfill and transfer stations to inspect and spot for incoming loads of raw, uncooked shrimp. Before disposal thereof, county site controllers will strongly urge a disposer to boil the raw, uncooked shrimp. Should a disposer decline, the site controllers will order a disposer to place the raw, uncooked shrimp in sealed containers and double bag them before it is accepted into the landfill. This process is similar to what county site controllers require for the disposal of asbestos, dead animals, and offal.

The county has however never publicized the disposal procedures or announced any "ban" on raw shrimp from the landfill.

The confidentiality section states that:

Unless disclosure is required by HRS Chapter 92F or other applicable law, the Parties agree and hereby acknowledge that the alleged facts and circumstances giving rise to any and all Claims being released herein and the fact that the Parties have agreed to forever resolve and compromise a dispute between them, and the terms and conditions of this Agreement shall, except as otherwise provided in this Paragraph 12, remain strictly confidential.

As to other information pursuant to the Mickens/Taylor request, "Council Services will be providing you with a written response within ten business days as required by 92F," according to an email from Morimoto accompanying the settlement.

The release of the document came last month after Taylor noticed a small blurb in the paperwork for a money bill, unrelated for the most part to the settlement that referred to the $250,000 "extracted" from the county using the word settlement, as reported (here here and here) by PNN over the past two weeks.

Taylor had to go to Lihu`e to retrieve the paperwork because, despite promises to the contrary by the county council, they still do not post the paperwork for agenda items on-line and rather require an in-person visit to obtain a paper copy.

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