Cesspools: Several Hawaii businesses fined more than $300K…

cessHonolulu, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow.com) –

Several Hawaii businesses fined more than $300K for failing to close large capacity cesspools. Several businesses in Hawaii have been fined a combined total of more than $300,000 for failing to close their large capacity cesspools that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said can pollute groundwater and nearshore waters where people swim. According to the EPA, Travaasa Hotel Hana Resort on Maui will pay $187,500, while Vacation Inns International on Oahu will pay $40,000. Shaka’s, a nightclub on the Big Island, will pay $82,425.

“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,” the EPA said in a statement. The Travaasa voluntarily closed a number of its cesspools over the last three years, the EPA said, and committed to closing its remaining 14 large capacity cesspools within the next two years. Both Travaasa and Vacation Inns said their cesspools will be replaced with state-approved septic systems.

Shaka’s has closed one cesspool and will close its remaining cesspool. The EPA has also filed a civil complaint against landowner Keith Ward for operating two illegal cesspools that serve Serg’s Mexican Kitchen in Waimanalo. Ward allegedly refused to submit proof of closing the cesspools that provide service to the restaurant.

More than 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed throughout the state since the ban was instituted in 2005. Large capacity cesspools include those that discharge untreated sewage from multiple residential dwellings and from non-residential locations that have the capacity to serve 20 ore more people per day.

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now.

City weighs Kapahulu repaving options after gas fire…

gas fireLisa Kubota – HawaiiNewsNow, Honolulu Hawaii. Nearly two months after a huge gas pipeline fire, crews have discovered more than a dozen other shallow spots along Kapahulu Avenue. City officials are now weighing their options as they try to move forward with the $4 million project to repave the busy roadway from the Honolulu Zoo to the H-1 Freeway.

Hawaii Gas crews have been repairing the damaged line and lowering a service lateral to one of the restaurants for the last couple of weeks. They should be done by the end of next week. The contractor, Road Builders, has been using a ground penetrating radar to try and locate any shallow utilities, according to city officials.

An asphalt milling machine hit a shallow pipe carrying synthetic natural gas on June 15, sending 20 foot flames into the air. The main line was installed in 1977. The pipe was only 8 inches below the surface due to existing electrical conduits directly below the pipe.

City officials said the project is about 55% done. Road Builders recently discovered up to 17 other shallow spots, according
to officials. They’re expecting to find out next week just how much it will cost to use potholing technology, where crews excavate certain locations

“It does involve a lot of effort and disruption for traffic and everything,” explained Mark Yonamine, deputy director of the Department of Design and Construction. “We have to balance against potholing, which would mean digging up a lot of the street, versus using the existing as built plans and whatever information we have from the other utilities,” he said.

The project was supposed to wrap up in August, but Yonamine is now hoping the work will be done by the end of the year.
The accident caused a total of $614,000 in damage, including the cost of gas released, according to a report that Hawaii Gas filed with the Public Utilities Commission. Yonamine said the city is still looking into who is responsible for the accident.

Hawaii Gas issued this statement:

“Hawaii Gas has provided the location of our pipelines in the project area. We do not provide the depth of pipelines because pipeline depths can, and often do, change over time due to circumstances beyond a utility’s control (for example, road resurfacing, changes in grade, erosion, etc.) Under Hawaii law, excavators are required to confirm the depth of underground pipelines before starting any excavation work. Some methods used by excavators include hand digging, potholing and use of ground penetrating radar. It’s important to ensure safety at all stages of a project,” said Thomas Young, executive Vice President of Hawaii Gas.

Hawaii News Now contacted Road Builders for comment, but did not receive a response.

City weighs Kapahulu repaving options after gas fire…2015 Hawaii News Now.

Incentive: State pitches cesspool upgrades…

stateBrittany Lyte – The Garden Island Lihue, Hawaii. Small number of Kauai residents would be eligible for incentive program. State health officials are drafting rules for a ban on cesspools as well as a tax credit incentive program that would help a small percentage of property owners upgrade to a more environmentally friendly waste system. The pending legislation is aimed at curbing water pollution by converting roughly 6,800 qualified cesspools in high-priority areas into septic systems or sewer system connections. Gov. David Ige will need to sign off on the rules before they can go into effect.

Hawaii is the only state that allows the construction of new cesspools. Kauai, however, banned them in 1991. But elsewhere in the state there are about 800 new cesspools currently under construction. “Cesspools in Hawaii release about 55 million gallons of actually untreated wastewater,” said Sina Pruder, engineering program manager for the state Department of Health’s wastewater branch. “Cesspools are actually the leading reason for contamination of groundwater and surface water and streams and there is a potential source of disease-causing pathogens.”

The average cost of a cesspool-to-septic system conversion is between $20,000 and $30,000, according to Pruder, who briefed the Kauai County Council on the pending legislation Wednesday morning. Under the proposed legislation, up to $10,000 would be made available per taxpayer for upgrades to cesspools within 200 feet of a source of drinking water, the ocean or a river or steam.

An estimated 1,500 of Kauai’s almost 14,000 cesspools and less than 8 percent of cesspools statewide would be eligible for the tax credit. For those eligible cesspools, upgrades would have to be completed during a five-year window starting Jan. 1. The tax credit program has an annual cap of $5 million.

The tax credit would be available for cesspool conversions, not new construction.

There are more than 88,000 cesspools in Hawaii. All told, 55,000 of them are on the Big Island and nearly 14,000 are on Kauai, according to the DOH. Experts say these cesspools release as much as 23,700 pounds of nitrogen and nearly 6,000 pounds of phosphorus into the ground each day. These gases can degrade water quality, stimulate undesirable algae growth and harm coral reefs.

Last year, state health officials proposed a mandate that would require homeowners to upgrade existing cesspools to a septic system or sewer line connection within 180 days of the sale of a home or business property. Businesses with large capacity cesspools were already required by federal law to upgrade in 2005.

The 2014 proposal was met with public concern about the financial repercussions of such a mandate and did not get signed into law.
The new legislation proposal is intended to be more lenient and sensitive to the idea that not all property owners have the financial resources to buy in to an upgrade. Still, county councilmembers questioned whether a $10,000 tax credit is enough to compel home and business owners to shell out an estimated $10,000 to $20,000 more to complete an upgrade.

“Is a $10,000 incentive enough for the public when their cesspool is functioning fine?” said Vice Chairman Ross Kagawa. “Everybody loves the environment, but it’s going to come down to how much money you’ve got. Ten thousand dollars to $20,000 is, for a lot of people, a year’s worth of savings.” A public meeting on the state cesspool proposal will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12 at the Kauai District Health Office, 3040 Umi Street.

Incentive: State pitches cesspool upgrades…Brittany Lyte – Environmental Reporter.

Pray you never have a sinkhole…

florida sink hole lawThanks to insurance ‘reform,’ pray you never have a sinkhole…
By Scott Maxwell – Taking Names.

OK, so no one ever wants to deal with a sinkhole. One day your house is fine. The next, it’s sinking into the ground, like a scene from “Poltergeist.” Why? Because as journalist Steve Lemongello recently reported in this piece — “Sinkhole or no sinkhole? Residents fight 6-year battle as law shifts around them” — it’s getting harder in this state to get insurance to do its job.

Is that because insurance companies are trying to hose you? Sure. Sometimes.

But it’s also because the people you elected are passing laws to hose you as well — to make the hosing systemic.

For sinkholes, it happened a few years back. Insurers claimed that sinkhole fraud was skyrocketing. And it probably was. But instead of simply targeting the fraudsters, they wanted to make it harder on everyone to file legitimate claims. And legislators happily agreed. We saw the something with car-insurance “reform.” Insurers claimed fraud was on the rise … and legislators responded by making it tougher on everyone to file claims. (Now, for instance, accident victims have to seek treatment within 14 days — whether they need it or not — if they ever hope to make a claim.)

The bottom line is that, most any time insurers start complaining about fraud and legislators start talking about “reform,” there’s a good chance Florida families will lose out … as the family in that sinkhole story is already finding out.

 

Pray you never have a sinkhole

Couple Accused of Lying about Sinkhole…

Florida sinkerFlorida Couple Accused of Allegedly Lying about Sinkhole to Homebuyer by Susanna Kim via Good Morning America – A couple in Florida is accused of lying about a sinkhole on their property to a homebuyer after cashing an insurance check without fixing it.

Glenn Jasen, 64, and his wife Kathryn, 63, of Spring Hill, Tennessee, were arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and appeared in federal district court in Tampa yesterday for their bond hearing. The couple, who own an air conditioning installation business, are accused of wire fraud, which is a federal felony, according to an indictment filed this week. They face a maximum of 20 years in prison each if convicted, according to a statement from U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III.

After the Jasens detected a sinkhole on their property, they made a claim to their insurer, the indictment states. But instead of repairing the sinkhole, they deposited the unspecified insurance check into a bank account, the U.S. attorney’s office said. The couple allegedly failed to disclose the sinkhole in real estate documents and later sold the home to another family, according to the indictment.

Victor Martinez, a lawyer for the Jasens, told ABC News that omissions or errors in home sale disclosures are typically prosecuted civilly through lawsuits. “This case is brought by federal indictment through wire fraud because money was transferred in the sale,” Martinez told ABC News. “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time this kind of case has been brought federally. We’ll file motions suggesting this maybe isn’t the best way to deal with that.”

The indictment says the Jasens received $64,900 for the sale of the home, which authorities say was a wire fraud scheme that took place between February 2014 and March 2014. The Jasens allegedly sold the home “while falsely and fraudulently representing to the family buying the home that there was no sinkhole and no prior existing sinkhole claim,” the indictment said.

The couple was released yesterday after pledging their property to secure a bail bond, according to documents filed with the court. They did not enter a plea at the hearing. “The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is committed to investigating financial crimes that personally impact the citizens of the State of Florida. We will continue to work with the prosecutorial team to bring these criminals to justice,” said special agent Rick Ramirez of Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center in a statement.

Kelly Magbee, who lived in the home after the Jasens sold it, told WFLA last month her family was forced to move out after it cracked down the middle of their living room. “We couldn’t stay in the house,” Magbee told the station. “We couldn’t even keep the animals in the house.” Magbee could not be reached for comment by ABC News.

Couple Accused of Lying about Sinkhole.

Kapahulu road work fire raises concerns…

Kapahulu road work fire raises concerns with other city projects

khon gas fire kapahulu-avenueBrent Remadna – KHON2 Honolulu Hawaii. A fire that burned for hours and left two workers injured has lead the city to take a closer look at how they check for utilities. In February re-surfacing work began on Kapahulu Avenue. The project was supposed to take a little more than a year, but after crews struck a gas line, which resulted in a blazing fire, work has been halted.

“This was a freak accident where two lines from the two utilities crossed and so to get over the one the gas line went up and over,” said Robert Kroning, director of the Dept. of Design and Construction. The city does have plans to show where utilities are and even marks them on the road, but they said the plans are old and sometimes not accurate.

“It should have been annotated on the plans and somehow that got missed,” said Kroning.”That’s why we are going to make sure we go through more thoroughly.” Since the fire the city says that they are now taking a closer look at the Kapahulu roadwork and other projects as well.

“There are crews that are now concerned about other roads in downtown,” said Kroning. “So we are working to do this analysis for all the roads we have concerns where this may happen.” Now instead of just going off old plans the city is taking a closer look.

“We are going to get ground penetrating radar to help find the locations to find utilities a little better and not just go off the plans,” said Kroning. As far as when roadwork will continue, that is still up in the air.

“Exact timeline I can’t give you because we don’t know what we are going to run into,” said Kroning. “So as we go through the process of searching for the lines that are shallow and maybe have to lower some that we run into and that will determine how much longer it will be.”

Kapahulu road work fire raises concerns.

Sinkhole swallows pickup truck in Palolo Valley…

palolo sinkholeSinkhole swallows pickup truck while crews respond to water main break in Palolo Valley.

By Ramsay Wharton – HawaiiNewsNow Honolulu, Hawaii. BWS- Board of Water Supply crews are responding to a 16-inch water main break and sinkhole located on 10th Avenue and Hinahina Street. The water main break, which was reported Thursday at around 6:05 a.m., ripped up the sidewalk and buckled the road near the sinkhole. Neighbors were urged by police to move their vehicles, but a Ford pickup truck was located right over the gushing main break, and in a matter of minutes, the truck collapsed into the roadway, uprooting the adjacent sidewalk. Honolulu police said they tried to get the truck out of the way before the road collapsed, but were unsuccessful.

As of 8:30 a.m., the truck was still submerged in the sinkhole. However, no injuries have been reported. The truck owner’s wife, Sala Costa, said she believes the truck and its collapse ultimately saved more water from causing damage to the couple’s home on the corner of 10th Avenue and Hinahina Street. She said the sound of rushing waters woke her up. They couldn’t escape their front yard gate because of the water coming into their yard.

Costa said she managed to climb over the fence with the help of police and firefighters. Water has not entered the home, but their garage is flooded and damaged some of their property and a shed in the back, she said. A similar water main break occurred about eight months ago and caused about $100,000 of damage to their home. They also just finished relaying new grass in their front yard, Costa added.

“Our whole yard was flooded and in fact, they just got through putting in new grass in the yard a week ago,” she said. BWS crews managed to shut off the water at 8:20 a.m. Approximately 23 customers have been impacted by the water main break. All lanes on 10th Avenue, between Hinahina Street and Hardesty Street, will remain closed. Repairs are expected to continue throughout the day and into the evening, BWS said.

Sinkhole swallows pickup truck in Palolo Valley – 2015 Hawaii News Now.