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INVESTIGATION LAUNCHED: Into 68,000 Gallon Maui Wastewater Spill

Wendy Osher · August 11, 2017, 1:12 PM HST (Updated August 12, 2017, 9:15 AM) · 48 Comments
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UPDATE: 3:15 p.m. 8.11.17 (Updated information courtesy County of Maui)

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Water Main break investigation underway in Wailuku. PC: County of Maui.

The county has launched an investigation into the damage of a 20-inch force main that sent tens of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into the ocean just north of Kahului Harbor on Thursday afternoon.

County officials say the Department of Environmental Management first became aware of the force main damage after discovering a sewage leak at 9 a.m. on Thursday, behind the Y Hata warehouse on the corner of Waiehu Beach Road and Kahului Beach Road in Wailuku, where the county has an easement.

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County officials say crews immediately worked to contain the spill in order to limit the volume that entered the ocean.  Crews completed construction of a protective berm by 11 a.m.

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    “Crews then tried to find the origin of the leak and while digging up the area of the force main, found about 20 tires of various sizes, on top of and on the side of the pipe. It was there surrounded by the tires that crews found the damage to the main,” county officials said in a press release.

    “It’s a clean, straight cut,” said DEM Director Stewart Stant. “It’s not corrosion because we just put in this force main seven years ago. It definitely looks like someone hit it using heavy equipment and damaged it and it wasn’t one of our crews.”

    An estimated 68,000 gallons of wastewater flowed over a dirt access road to the Wailuku Pump Station and into the ocean. The remaining 136,000 gallons of wastewater was contained on site after a dirt berm was constructed. The area was cleaned and disinfected, bacteriological tests were conducted, and warning signs were posted.

    Following the discovery of the spill the county contacted the State Department of Health, which had a representative on scene when the damage was uncovered. The county will turn over all findings and information involving the damaged main to the DOH – which is the reporting authority for wastewater spills – so they can follow up with their own investigation.

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    Kahului wastewater spill. PC: Maui now background image of waters just north of the harbor. Map courtesy state Department of Health via Google maps.

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    The state Department of Health, Clean Water Branch has issued an update regarding the sewage discharge that was reported in Kahului on Thursday afternoon.

    The department states that updated information from Maui County has indicated that the discharge was larger than initial reports, and entered the ocean north of Kahului Harbor.

    The public is reminded to remain out of the waters between Kanaloa Avenue to Linekona Street in Kahului until warning signs have been removed.

    According to updated volume estimates, approximately 68,000 gallons of the estimated 204,000 gallons that was spilled, entered into the ocean.

    Water Main break investigation underway in Wailuku. PC: County of Maui.

    Water Main break investigation underway in Wailuku. PC: County of Maui.

    Water Main break investigation underway in Wailuku. PC: County of Maui.

    Water Main break investigation underway in Wailuku. PC: County of Maui.

    Wendy Osher
    Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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