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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 11, 2001

Leeward farm neighbors raise stink

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Leeward Writer

For months a Leeward O'ahu neighborhood has been raising a stink about a lifestyle issue that residents say leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

"You can't eat a meal because of the awful odor," sniffed Lillian Pauline, who echoed the sentiments of her neighbors who have held their noses but not their tongues over the smell emitting from the J&J Livestock and Eco-Feed company's hog and feed processing operations in Lualualei Valley.

Both operations, at 87-881 Ili'ili Road, are owned by John Yoshikawa of Makaha.

Now Pauline says there is hope that all the griping could pay off. On Tuesday, backed by more than a dozen miffed residents, Pauline presented her case to the Wai-

'anae Coast Neighborhood Board. The board responded by voting unanimously to send a letter to the state Department of Health expressing concerns about smell, dust and ground-water contamination coming from Yoshikawa's farm.

Some board members had already had a whiff.

"This place stinks," said chairwoman Cynthia Rezentes.

Even before the meeting, the Health Department had scheduled an administrative hearing for Dec. 6 to consider alleged health violations by Eco-Feed. After studying the recommendations of hearings officer Lou Erte-

schik, Health Department Director Bruce Anderson will decide whether Eco-Feed should be fined.

"I don't think that we as human beings should have to live with this," said Pauline. "We feel this company does not belong in a farm area."

Pauline said she has lived in the area for 45 years and is a farmer herself, but the stench from J&J takes her breath away. Others agree.

"You can live next to a chicken farm, you can live next to a hog lot, you can live next to a sewer plant — but living next to this is unbearable," said Francis Smith, whose family lives next door to J&J Livestock.

In January, Yoshikawa told the neighborhood board that the problem was with malfunctioning dehydration processing equipment he ordered from Australia. The process converts waste food from hotels into pig feed. Yoshikawa told the board the equipment would be fixed. The Health Department, which monitored Yoshikawa's progress, gave him mixed reviews.

Since then, Yoshikawa said, he has cleaned up the operation and he no longer pumps waste water into a pond on the property that neighbors fear could contaminate the ground water. But he says he has had little cooperation from the Australian manufacturer in getting the dehydration process equipment to work right.

He feels that part of the problem is city slickers who move into farm areas because the land is cheaper and then complain about farm odors. But like Pauline, many complainers are themselves longtime farmers in the area. They say Yoshikawa's operation goes way beyond the average foul farm odor.

Yoshikawa doesn't deny his place smells, although he contends it's "not that bad once you get used to it."

Originally he said he intended to sell the feed processed from the waste food. Now, he has decided to scale back the entire feed production business and use the product just for his hog operation. J&J Livestock feeds some 300 breeder sows.

"I'm not saying I'm giving up, but it didn't work out how I wanted it to," Yoshikawa said Friday. "I thought I could fix it up well enough where it wouldn't be a nuisance. I've known these people for years. My intentions were good."

Reach Will Hoover at whoover@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8038.