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EPA Issues Complaint to Tahiti Nui for Failing to Close Cesspools

Release Date: 08/30/2012
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

Kauai restaurant failed to respond to demands to comply with requirements

HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated an enforcement action under the Safe Drinking Water Act against Christian Marston and Tahiti Nui Enterprises, Inc. LLC for failing to close three large capacity cesspools in Hanalei, Kauai.

“EPA is committed to protecting Hawaii’s vital water resources by closing these illegal large capacity cesspools,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Although almost 3,000 cesspools have been closed, an alarming number are still in use.”

EPA has inspected Marston’s property, including the Tahiti Nui Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, multiple times and notified Marston that his establishment was in violation of the federal regulations. In 2006, the owner acknowledged the operation of large capacity cesspools and retained the services of a professional engineer to design a state-approved individual wastewater system to replace the cesspools.

However, in 2010 EPA determined that Marston had failed to comply with the requirements to close and convert the three cesspools serving his property. As a result of the continued noncompliance, EPA is now seeking penalties of up to $177,500, the amount authorized under the Safe Drinking Water Act, in addition to prompt closure and replacement of the cesspools with an approved wastewater system.

The facility is located in a "priority watershed," as designated by the State of Hawaii and EPA, where use of the large capacity cesspools poses a significant risk to underground sources of drinking water and nearby surface waters.

A large capacity cesspool discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people per day. EPA regulations prohibited new large capacity cesspool construction after April 2000 and required closure of existing large 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.

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.  Large capacity cesspools are used by restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, apartments and condominiums, to dispose their sanitary waste.

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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