More signs posted at Kewalo Basin as questions persist over sewage spill reporting delay

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Portions of Kewalo Basin remained closed Thursday after a sewage spill that went unreported for days.

More warning signs went up and the state Department of Health took water samples.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority (HCDA) has jurisdiction over the area. We reported the problem to them Sunday night, but never got a response.

HCDA is required by law to report sewage spills immediately and the health department says it was not reported until late Tuesday.

Health officials say the raw sewage is coming from the bathrooms, which remain closed until the repairs are done.

In addition to warning signs at the harbor, there were new signs posted in the park.

Some are also outraged that the parking lot was filled with cars on Monday, July 4, and no one was told about the sewage spill.

Philip Sagario surfs and works in the area, and he can’t understand why it took so long to get someone to fix the the problem.

“Shame on you HCDA,” he said.

Sagario was there on the Fourth of July holiday, when the parking lot was crowded with cars of families who wanted to watch the fireworks show. They were charged $20 per car.

“Walking through it, driving through it, nobody paid attention to it,” he said. “It was brought to my attention that day. One of my friends was passing by and he said, ‘You don’t smell sewage?'”

Stuart Coleman of the Surfrider Foundation is baffled. He says HCDA is required to have protocols on how to handle sewage spills.

“You had this spill in the parking lot. It’s not reported and you still have cars parking here, and they’re charging people to park here when their sewage overflowed. It just seems like something’s majorly wrong,” Coleman said. “If there’s a sewage spill, then you need to know who reports when, what’s the containment issue. The fact that it wasn’t reported until two days later just doesn’t make any sense.”

We have yet to hear from HCDA in person, but the health department tells us that the harbor master did not tell HCDA about the spill until two days later.

“HCDA themselves as the owner didn’t find out until Tuesday when returning to work after the long weekend, and that’s when they notified us,” said Matthew Kurano, state Department of Health.

“Is that what HCDA said?” KHON2 asked.

“That’s my understanding,” Kurano replied.

“So the harbormaster never notified HCDA?” KHON2 asked.

“I think you should talk to HCDA about that communication. I’m not sure,” Kurano said.

Once again, we asked HCDA for an on-camera interview and once again, we were told that no one is available and our questions could only be answered by email.

We got a response late Thursday that said:

“The sewage has not been overflowing since we shut down the restroom facilities and pumped out the line. Work is still being done to examine the line and determine what caused the problem. A time frame for repairs can be determined only after we find the problem.

Because the leak was intermittent for only short portions of the day, it is difficult to determine (how much sewage has spilled).

Our primary concern was stopping the spill. 9-1-1 was called immediately and the restroom was closed. The City and County also responded to the site on Sunday as we worked to troubleshoot.

The area is closed and roped off and signs are posted warning the public to stay out of the area. The water in the parking lot was also disinfected. I believe it has already been vacuumed up so there should be little to no standing water left.”

As for the parking lot fees, Howard Hughes Corp. was charging and a spokesman said they were not aware of the spill when they were letting people in.

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