EPA Fines Hawaii Businesses for Cesspool Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has completed enforcement actions with the Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort in Hana, Maui, Vacation Inns International on the North Shore, Oahu, and Shaka’s in Pahoa on the Big Island, for failure to close their large capacity cesspools. Travaasa will pay a penalty of $187,500, Vacation Inns International will pay $40,000, and Shaka’s will pay $82,425.

In addition, EPA has also filed a civil complaint against landowner Keith Ward of Waimanalo for operating two illegal cesspools that serves Serg’s Mexican Kitchen restaurant.

“Cesspools serving resorts and restaurants can pollute the groundwater and nearshore waters where people swim,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is committed to protecting Hawaii’s precious 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 harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.

Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort in Hana, Maui

Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort in Hana, Maui

The Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort (formerly known as the Hotel Hana Maui) has voluntarily closed a number of its cesspools over the last three years, and has committed to closing its remaining 14 large capacity cesspools within the next two years, replacing them with state-approved septic systems.

The same is true for Vacation Inns International (also known as Backpackers Hawaii Vacation Inn) and its six cesspools, located on the North Shore of Oahu, a popular destination for surfers from around the world.

Shaka’s Pahoa LLC that operates the Pahoa Café nightclub has closed one cesspool and has another remaining cesspool to close.

The civil complaint against landowner Keith Ward of Waimanalo where two illegal cesspools for Serg’s Mexican Kitchen operates, stems from an EPA inspection in 2011. Mr. Ward allegedly refused to submit a proof of closing for the cesspools that provides service to the restaurant. Serg’s is located in the Waimanalo watershed, targeted by EPA and the State because it is burdened by multiple sources of water pollution.

Throughout the state of Hawaii, over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed, many through voluntary compliance, since the ban was instituted in 2005. 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. 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 the completed cases visit:
http://www3.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-heavenly-hana.html
http://www3.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-vacation-inns.html
http://www3.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/pubnotices/pubnotice-shakas-pahoa.html

For more information on the large capacity cesspool ban, please visit:
http://www2.epa.gov/uic/cesspools-hawaii

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