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EPA protects Kauai water quality by compelling Tahiti Nui to close cesspools

Release Date: 05/27/2014
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(05/27/14) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has reached a settlement with Tahiti Nui Enterprises that includes a $69,000 penalty for its longstanding failure to close three large capacity cesspools at the Tahiti Nui Restaurant and Bar in Hanalei, Kauai.

“The restaurant’s illegal cesspools posed a significant risk to underground sources of drinking water and nearby surface waters,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is committed to protecting Hawaii’s vital water resources by closing down all large capacity cesspools.”

Cesspools, which are used more widely in Hawaii than any other state, discharge raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants can pollute groundwater, streams and the ocean.

EPA had inspected the Tahiti Nui restaurant numerous times for large capacity cesspool violations and over the course of several years tried to work with the owner, Christian Marston, to bring his facility into compliance. In 2006, Marston acknowledged the operation of three large capacity cesspools and retained the services of a professional engineer to design a state-approved wastewater system to replace the cesspools. However, upon re-inspection in 2010, EPA found the cesspools were still in use and issued a Notice of Violation, followed by a formal enforcement action under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in 2012.

The restaurant has since closed its three cesspools and installed an approved septic tank wastewater system in October 2013. Throughout the state of Hawaii over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed, many through voluntary compliance, since the ban started in 2005.

The banned large capacity cesspools include those discharging untreated sewage from multiple residential dwellings, and from non-residential locations that have the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day. EPA regulations prohibited new large capacity cesspool construction after April 2000 and required closure of existing large capacity cesspools as of April 2005. The regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools or to non-residential cesspools that do not have the capacity to serve 20 or more people.

For more information on this particular complaint visit: http://www.epa.gov/region9/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-tahiti-nui.html

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/water/groundwater/uic-hicesspools.html

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