Sunday, February 4, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, February 4, 2001

Pig farm creates stink

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

NANAKULI - For almost a year Vicky Domingo says she has been suffering with foul odors coming from J&J Livestock, located across from her two-acre farm on Iliili Road in Lualualei Valley.

"It smells like dead rats," Domingo said.

Domingo, who grows marunggay (horseradish tree), saluyot (jute) and bitter melon, says the smell has been so bad she cannot find workers who will put up with the stench. A rental house on her property sits vacant because of the horrible smell, she said.

"I call the (state Department of Health). There are so many complaints about them, but it seems like nobody hear us," Domingo said. "Everybody in the neighborhood is complaining."

John Yoshikawa, president of the livestock farm and Eco-Feed Inc., a company that recycles excess hotel and restaurant food for pig feed, said he is addressing odor problems at the pig farm.

"We’ve pretty much cleared up most of the problem now," Yoshikawa said. "We are spending a lot of money mitigating the problem."

The problem is not just the normal odors associated with a pig farm, but were caused by a series of malfunctions with his recycling equipment, Yoshikawa said.

Eco-Feed uses the food waste to manufacture pig feed by removing the excess water in a boiler and mixing it with a dry meal. The final product is sold to other pig farmers.

"When we first installed the equipment we had some problems with the food waste spillage," Yoshikawa said. "That is where the odor was from and that is what we are removing right now."

Yoshikawa said he brought in the recycling equipment from Australia about 1à years ago but it has never worked properly. He has ordered replacements, which are expected to arrive in about three weeks.

"It is a new technology," he said. "I do need some time to get it going."

Mark Leong, a vector inspector for the health department, said it has received 14 complaints about odors from the farm since last May, four of them just last month.

Inspectors have visited the site several times since hearing residents’ complaints and issued a violation notice to J&J after finding a dead calf on the property in December, and for feeding trough problems.

Leong returned to the site last week and said while those violations had been remedied, waste food overflow into a pond and exhaust fumes from the boiler is where the worst odors were created.

"It was pretty nasty," Leong said. "They are going through trial and error of a new business. Unfortunately, from our point of view, when they came upon a problem it wasn’t solved in a reasonable amount of time."

Leong said J&J has now pumped out the pond, cleaned up the sties and installed a new exhaust system. The odor problem now is almost normal for a pig farm, he said. Inspectors will return periodically to make sure the business finishes the job and complies with health codes.

"Even though they are working to clean up, it is not done well enough yet," Leong said. "If it is not taken care of, there will be fines involved."

Fines can be up to $1,000 a day, he said.

Leong said residential development has pushed many animal farms out of areas such as Hawaii Kai and more farms have moved to the Waianae area. With dozens of pig and chicken farms having set up shop near homes and schools, complaints are increasing.

"For farmers who are familiar with that kind of stuff, it is OK," Leong said. "But we have seen people actually buy ag land to put up homes, thinking the land is inexpensive, and treat it as residential. Then they call up complaining about odors."

He said a mixed-use area of farms and rental units also creates a problem because of odors.

"In the past, the department has always recommended against mixed use, having schools and homes too close to farms," Leong said. "Those recommendations have not always been followed."

Domingo said normal farm odors are not the problem.

"The owner says we are doing things, but it is coming worse," Domingo said. "DOH says they are working on it, but so far it still smells."

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