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U.S. EPA issues penalties to Gay and Robinson and Kula Lodge and Restaurant for failing to close cesspools

Release Date: 04/07/2010
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(04/07/10) HONOLULU - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an Order fining the Gay and Robinson company on Kauai and the owner of the Kula Lodge & Restaurant on Maui for failing to close large-capacity cesspools.

“Cesspools discharge raw sewage into the ground, allowing disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants to pollute groundwater, streams and the ocean,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division Director of EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “As five years have passed since the large-capacity cesspool ban took effect, we’re working to ensure large-capacity cesspools are closed to protect Hawaii’s water resources.”

Gay and Robinson will pay $110,000 for failing to close 40 large-capacity cesspools on Kauai. EPA’s Order requires the company to close its Kaumakani large-capacity cesspool and Camp 6 cesspools by May 2010, and its large-capacity cesspools at Pakala Village by September 2011.

The Kaumakani cesspool is 22 feet wide, and has received untreated sewage for many years from two administration buildings and 28 homes on Kaumakani Avenue. Although the administration buildings no longer discharge to the cesspool, the 28 homes still rely on this cesspool. The Pakala Village and Camp 6 cesspools have been used to serve residences for company retirees, and are typically connected to 2 or 3 homes each.

In September 2009, EPA commenced formal enforcement action against Gay and Robinson for failure to comply with EPA’s requirement to close all large-capacity cesspools by April 2005. Presently, the company has state-approved replacement plans for the cesspools required to close by the May 2010 deadline, and EPA is awaiting design plans/concepts to better understand how the large cesspools at Pakala Village will be replaced.

Kula Lodge & Restaurant owner Fred Romanchak was issued numerous warnings by EPA concerning the required closure of large-capacity cesspools at his facility prior to resolving this matter. Mr. Romanchak has agreed to pay a fine of $51,000, and recently completed installation of a new state-approved wastewater system.

“Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state,” said David Albright, manager of the EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Ground Water Office. “While many cesspools are now closed, there are numerous large-capacity cesspools in use by restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, which still require attention.”

A large-capacity cesspool discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people per day. Federal regulations, which prohibit large-capacity cesspools as of April 2005, do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.

For more information on EPA’s large-capacity cesspool regulations, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/hicesspools.

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