Break sends nearly 70,000 gallons of sewage into ocean

County crews build berm to keep 136,000 gallons of massive spill contained

A 20-inch sewer force main behind the Y. Hata warehouse at the corner of Kahului Beach and Waiehu Beach roads sprung a leak that spilled 204,000 gallons of untreated sewage Thursday, the county said. The nature of the “clean, straight cut” led county officials to speculate that heavy equipment caused the damage. -- County of Maui photo

The Maui News

Damage to a 20-inch sewer force main near the Kahului Beach and Waiehu Beach road area that caused a 204,000-gallon spill Thursday is being investigated because of unusual findings at the break site, the county said Friday.

An estimated 68,000 gallons of untreated sewage flowed over a dirt access road to the Wailuku Pump Station behind the Y. Hata warehouse and into the ocean, said county spokesman Rod Antone. County crews worked to contain the spill and to limit the sewage flowing into the ocean by building a protective berm, which was completed at 11 a.m., he said.

The berm contained the rest of the spill, 136,000 gallons, he said.

The area was cleaned and disinfected, bacteriological tests were conducted, and warning signs were posted, Antone said.

County crews repaired a 20-inch sewer force main. The work was completed at about 4 p.m. Thursday. -- County of Maui photo

The state Department of Health continued to advise people Friday to stay out of the ocean from the Kahului Harbor breakwater to Linekona Street in Paukukalo. The waters inside the harbor were not affected.

Excavation work to find the source of the leak led to the uncovering of 20 tires of various sizes buried on top and on the sides of the main at the site of the leak, Antone said.

“It’s a clean, straight cut,” said Stewart Stant, director of the Department of Environmental Management. “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.”

The Department of Environmental Management first became aware of the force main damage after discovering a sewage leak at 9 a.m. Thursday at the site where the county has an easement, Antone said. The repairs were completed at 3:55 p.m.

Following the discovery of the spill, the county contacted the Health Department, which had a representative on scene when the damage was uncovered, Antone said. The county will turn over all findings and information involving the damaged main to the Health Department — which is the reporting authority for wastewater spills — so that the state agency can follow up with its own investigation.