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‘Maliciously’ clogged Palolo manhole sends sewage to ocean

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COMOverflowing effluent poured into Palolo Stream on Tuesday due to an intentionally clogged sewer line.
    DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Overflowing effluent poured into Palolo Stream on Tuesday due to an intentionally clogged sewer line.

Work crews spent Monday night through Tuesday morning clearing an intentionally clogged sewer line that sent more than 103,000 gallons of raw sewage pouring into Palolo Stream all the way to Magic Island.

In addition to rocks and sticks, the manhole on Ahe Street in front of the Palolo Valley Homes public housing project was intentionally plugged with clothes and tricycle parts that helped trigger an unknown amount of effluent to overflow, said Watson Okubo, supervisor for the Health Department’s monitoring and analysis section.

The spill was reported at 9:10 p.m. Monday, but crews were unable to release the blockage because they were unable to access a manhole downstream due to private construction, Okubo said. The spill is on-going and intermittent, he said.

 “Warning signs are being posted (and) the public is advised to stay out of Palolo Stream, Ala Wai Canal, Magic Island, and surf sites Bamburas, Ala Moana Bowl, Rock pile, In Betweens and Kaisers until we can determine a volume of discharge,” Okubo said.

The state Department of Health has been notified of the spill.

Okubo said it was a particularly bad blockage requiring workers to spend all night clearing the sewer of trash and debris.

“A lot of people don’t realize what goes on,” Okubo said as workers continued to pull parts and clothes out of the manhole Tuesday. “It happens several times a year and in some areas of the island more frequently. This is obviously malicious. The vandalism is costing us taxpayers’ money that can be used to address other meaningful work projects.”

A few years ago in Nanakuli, a similar manhole overflowed that had been stuffed with an engine block, engine parts, tire rims and household trash.

“The guys gotta take out everything,” Okubo said. “This is just a waste of taxpayer money.”

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