LIHU‘E – The Environmental Protection Agency has recently released a complaint to Tahiti Nui Restaurant and Cocktail Bar for failing to close its three large capacity cesspools. The organization is 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.
According to the EPA, the Hanalei restaurant owner, Christian Marston, was notified multiple times and failed to comply with federal requirements.
For the past six years, the EPA has been concerned that Tahiti Nui’s cesspools have kept discharging raw sewage into the ground for a significant amount of time, risking polluting the environment from underground sources of drinking water to the ocean with disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Marston and Tahiti Nui Enterprises, Inc. LLC are in an unlawful standing with state and federal regulations.
“EPA is committed to protecting Hawai‘i’s vital water resources by closing these illegal large capacity cesspools,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
According to Blumenfeld, 3,000 cesspools have been closed already, yet he said “an alarming number are still in use.”
In 2006, Marston acknowledged Tahiti Nui’s three large capacity cesspools’ operation, and he retained the services of a professional contractor from Wagner Engineering to design a state-approved individual wastewater system to replace the cesspools.
“I’m in compliance, the plans are in the Engineering department’s hands, it’s been there almost three years,” Marston said on Friday.
In January 2007, according to the EPA, neither Marston nor his contractor had submitted conversion plans for approval to the Department of Health.
Later on that year, Marston was officially informed by the EPA that his business was still in violation, but no response from Tahiti Nui owner was received.
Several more letters notifying Marston of the environmental damages his business was likely to be causing were sent to him, but according to EPA, not one was answered.
After more official attempts at reaching an agreement with Marston were made to no avail, EPA determined in 2010 that Marston had failed to comply with the requirements to close and convert the three cesspools serving his property.