Pflueger case closed

PILA’A — The Clean Water Act consent decree that required former Kauai developer and Oahu auto dealer James Pflueger to stabilize and restore previously owned property at Pila’a on Kauai’s north shore has come to a close.

The Aug. 18 decision was handed down by the federal district court in Honolulu and was in connection to Pflueger’s unauthorized construction activities at Pila’a, which triggered a Nov. 2001 mudslide.

That mudslide smothered the reef at Pila’a and ruined “a favorite spot for diving, subsistence fishing and gathering of limu, swimming and other subsistence and recreational activities,” according to a release from Earthjustice.

Pfluegar was sentenced to seven months in jail for the deaths of the people, but was granted a medical release after a month-a-half in jail to finish his remaining sentence at home.

In 2002, Earthjustice filed suit against Pflueger under the Clean Water Act on behalf of Limu Coalition and the Kilauea Neighborhood Association, with the purpose of protecting the reef from further harm and to force property restoration.

Hawaii’s Department of Health followed with their own lawsuit in 2006.

“The Department of Health is pleased that the restoration activities were successful and that this case is now behind us,” said Stuart Yamada, with the DOH environmental management division. “We hope that others will learn from this and prevent pollution from construction activities.”

The decree required Pflueger to restore three streams that were illegally filled, to install native landscaping on the property, and to “implement measures to prevent further sediment from flowing into the Pacific Ocean,” the Earthjustice release said.

In addition, Pflueger paid $2.2 million in penalties to the United States and to the state of Hawaii.

“We are pleased the measures the consent decree required have stopped further harm to Pila’a reef,” said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. “If the developer had followed requirements mandating proactive measures to prevent runoff in the first place, however, the devastation would have never happened at all.”

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