City could have worked harder to prevent Sand Island sewage spill

(Via KHON)

The city continues to clean up after Sunday’s massive wastewater spill at Sand Island.

The spill, which occurred at around 11 a.m. at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, was triggered by a short circuit caused by a surge of wastewater during heavy rains.

While 5,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled into Honolulu Harbor, the plant’s interior suffered much worse.

Honolulu’s mayor said crews have cleaned up all 20 million gallons of sewage that spilled inside the plant, and much of the plant’s power should be restored by Wednesday.

But could the city have done something to prevent it?

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said a perfect storm of events led to damage to the plant and yes, the city could have done better in trying to prevent it.

The sewage that spilled into the storeroom covered the entire basement up to eight feet high. It flowed into the area where the electrical panels are, which caused a power outage.

But the mayor said everything is now cleaned out and expected to work again.

“Once we get power up here, we will be back pretty much to where we were prior to the problem,” Caldwell said.

Sewage is being treated as normal, because the power for that never went out.

Caldwell said the wastewater that spilled in the storeroom was pumped out and treated in a similar manner.

“The good news is 20 million gallons, if it would have gone on the ground, we would have had a major problem cleaning it up,” Caldwell said.

Environmental groups like the Surfrider Foundation are concerned that it happened.

“This was a five-inch rain which was heavy, but we should be prepared for more than that, so if the hurricane had hit directly, it could have been catastrophic,” said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii manager at the Surfrider Foundation.

The mayor said it was a combination of the large tanks called clarifiers being fixed, which led to one of only two channels where sewage flows being usable when the storm hit.

As far as the cost, the mayor said the city is insured with a $75,000 deductible, so that’s likely what it will cost city taxpayers for the damage to the plant.

The mayor said preventive measures are already being done so it doesn’t happen again, and city crews admitted they should have done better.

“They said ‘We’re going to do a better job.’ They stepped up, they owned it… and they said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do to prevent this from occurring again,’” Caldwell said.

Sewage backs up at plant — Stormwater resulting from Hurricane Ana inundates the Sand Island facility, flooding rooms and damaging electrical equipment

(Via Star Advertiser)

More than 100 workers and a dozen private contractors are scrambling to repair the critical Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant that was flooded by Hurricane Ana, which left behind 20 million gallons of untreated sludge that overwhelmed the plant Sunday morning and left it without power.

After 5,000 gallons of raw sewage poured out of manholes into Hono­lulu Harbor on Sunday morning, sewage treatment plant workers discovered a series of below-ground rooms, tunnels and critical panels under 6 to 8 feet of effluent and water that reached as high as door sills.

The crippled plant represented the worst of Ana’s damage on Oahu, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

“Before Ana left she left us a good kick in the butt,” Caldwell said before leading reporters on a tour of the plant. “The good news is there were no injuries to anyone.”

Caldwell hopes repairs will be made before the end of the week. He had no estimate for the costs for overtime, outside contractors and repairs to the plant’s electrical system. But Caldwell said he did not expect the price tag to reach into the millions.

Even as workers continued to clean out the sludge left behind by Ana on Monday, about 70 million gallons of new raw sewage was being processed by gravitational flow without electrical assistance.

The plant serves Hono­­lulu’s dense urban core from Hawaii Kai to Red Hill and normally processes 60 million to 70 million gallons of urban sewage on a typical day.

But around 9 a.m. Sunday morning, stormwater from Ana overwhelmed the plant for about 15 minutes with 240 million gallons of combined water and sewage.

Normally, sewage flows into the plant through two “channels.” But one is down for repairs, and the other could not handle the sudden surge of water and sewage.

“One channel can only hold half of that, maybe 110 to 120 million gallons,” said Markus Owens, spokes­man for the city’s Department of Environmental Services. “You just had too much coming.”

The overflow from the working channel spilled into the adjacent one under repair, which allowed the sewage to pour into concrete rooms and tunnels below that house electrical panels that were all damaged.

Then around 11 a.m. another stream of 130 million to 140 million gallons of sewage poured through the plant.

Ana also knocked out power to the Synagro Bioconversion Facility next door that normally handles the sludge left behind after water is sent to be cleaned via ultraviolet rays.

Workers on Monday continued to pump out the sludge and transport it manually to Synagro, which had its power back up Monday afternoon.

No new storms are forecast for the next seven days, Caldwell said, giving officials time to make both repairs and contingencies for the next storm.

“This is the worst damage we’re going to see from Ana,” Caldwell said. “We definitely want to avoid this from happening in the future. The good news: It was all contained.”

The city remains under a federal consent decree to make sweeping sewer upgrades by 2035.

City officials, meanwhile, reopened Hanauma Bay, the Wai­pio Soccer Complex, Central Oahu Regional Park and the Hono­lulu Zoo, which had all been closed because of Hurricane Ana. The West Loch Municipal Golf Course remained closed.

From Friday afternoon through Sunday night, the National Weather Service said, Ana dumped 11.05 inches of rain on Manoa’s Lyon Arboretum and 11.67 inches in Keaumo on Hawaii island. A high-surf advisory remained in effect for all islands until 6 a.m. Tuesday.


Ana’s rains flooded Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant

(Via Hawaii News Now)

Hurricane Ana’s steady rain soaked Oahu Saturday through Sunday and disrupted the system at the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant processes 60 million to 70 million gallons of wastewater on an average day. It’s equipped to handle twice that, but not what Ana poured down.

“Then it started spiking up, spiking up, spiking up. It went up to 240 million gallons,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said.

That overloaded the system and sent 5,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater into Honolulu Harbor. But 20 million gallons went into the treatment plant’s storeroom

“Twenty million gallons of sewage up to a couple inches of the tops of doors,” Caldwell said. “Somewhere between 6 and 8 feet of sewage down in this area where all of our electrical panels are.”

The flood short circuited electrical panels that operate the plant’s eight sewage clarifiers. Sand Island can still treat wastewater but can’t send sludge from the sewage to a processing plant until electricity is restored..

“They’re working very hard to get these two primary clarifiers up and running again. They anticipate having it up and running by Thursday if not sooner,” Caldwell said.

He said the treatment plant can function with just three clarifiers.

“We’ve learned that in future rain events we’re going to make sure that any holes and overflows are dealt with and temporarily sealed,” Caldwell said.

He said Ana has prompted his administration to develop a standard operating procedure for future rain events.

Makalapa – Pumpkin Carving Night information and form –

Just a friendly reminder that tomorrow, October 21, is the deadline to sign up to attend Pumpkin Carving Night on October 30. If you would like to come, please get your reservations in by tomorrow. They will not accept any reservations after that date. I have attached the flyer for your convenience.
Wednesday, October 22 is Teacher’s Institute Day, no school for students.


Accused copper thief strikes again in Dillingham

(Via KHON)


An accused copper thief appears to have struck again.

For the third time in less than five months, 29-year-old Brandon Baniaga has been arrested for copper theft.

His latest arrest happened Thursday afternoon near Dillingham.

Baniaga was arrested for felony copper theft and two drug counts.

Last month, he was arrested on sand island access road and several months again he was arrested near the H-3 freeway for the same crime.

Baniaga has yet to be charged.

Event cancellations and closures ahead of Ana

(Via KHON)


Friday, Oct. 17

  • White Cane Safety Awareness Day Walk: This event will be rescheduled. Details TBA.
  • Hawaii Theatre Box Office: Closed from 5 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Tuesday.
  • Talk Story Festival: This event has been rescheduled to Nov. 7 and 8.

Saturday, Oct. 18

  • ILH/OIA football games:  All Saturday night high school football games have been moved to Friday.Click here for more information.
  • Leeward Oahu multi-beach cleanup: The cleanup was to begin at 7:30 a.m. at Depos Beach Park in Nanakuli and continue on to Ulehawa, Nanakuli Beach Park, Zabland Beach Park and Black Rock. The cleanup will be rescheduled.
  • Free Keiki ID event: The event was scheduled from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at the Pearl Kai McDonalds.
  • Kaimuki Clean-Up: This monthly recycling community clean-up, drop-off program has been rescheduled for Saturday, Nov. 8, at Kaimuki High School.
  • Haleiwa Jodo Mission YBA Craft Fair: Rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Honolulu Night Market: Cancelled. Next event scheduled for Nov. 15.
  • HULIAU 2014… WE DANCE NOW: Rescheduled to Sunday, Oct. 26, at 4 p.m. at Hawaii Theatre. All tickets will be honored. Click here for more information.
  • Heroes of Aloha: Event has been moved from Waikiki Shell to Blaisdell Arena. All other details remain the same.
  • Taste of Kalihi
  • Moanalua High School Marching Band Menehune Classi c: Will not be rescheduled.
  • Jodo Mission of Hawaii Annual Bazaar: Postponed to Sunday, Oct. 26, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Waipahu Pop-Up Legal Clinic: Rescheduled to Nov. 1, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Transition Fair 2014: Canceled.

Sunday, Oct. 19

  • Third Annual Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival: The festival has been rescheduled for Sunday, November 2.
  • Kapolei City Lions Benefit Breakfast: Rescheduled for Sunday, Oct. 26.
  • Lyon in the Sun: Postponed at Lyon Arboretum.
  • Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure: Rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 2.

Monday, Oct. 20

  • THE FUTURE IS NOW: Renewable Energy & Climate Change Educational Briefing: The briefing will be rescheduled sometime in November.

Multiple dates

  • BayFest: The event was scheduled for Oct. 17-19 at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Pre-purchased tickets will be refunded. Click here for more information.
  • Talk Story Festival: Event scheduled for Oct. 16-17 has been rescheduled for Nov. 7-8, 6-9 p.m., at McCoy Pavilion in Ala Moana Regional Park.

Radford to review social media use after locker room investigation

(Via KHON)

There’s been a recent crackdown on cell phones at Radford High School following an incident in the girl’s locker room.

Last month, school officials launched an investigation after reports that a cheerleader took inappropriate pictures of students in the locker room, then shared the pictures using a popular photo-messaging application called Snapchat.

Snapchat is popular because the pictures and video viewed via Snapchat can quickly disappear, which users believe would do away with any evidence of its misuse.

Snapchat has been around for only a couple of years, but it has caught the imagination of users who can share with others moments caught in pictures or on video – moments that disappear after just a few seconds after they are seen on computers and other devices via social media.

Last month at Radford High School, a cheerleader was caught using Snapchat to capture moments that triggered an investigation on campus.

“The school did conduct an investigation, did speak with the student, reprimanded the student, and now there is also a ban on mobile devices in locker rooms, smart phones, cell phones,” said Donalyn Dela Cruz, spokesperson for the Hawaii State Department of Education.

But that ban in locker rooms is only in place at Radford High School. The department says a principal is empowered to make his or her own decision when it comes to any ban on campus.

While pictures or video distributed via Snapchat can quickly disappear, nothing in cyberspace ever goes away forever, according to Chris Duque, a cyber-security expert who investigates computer and Internet crimes.

“There’s a possibility, a high possibility, to do digital forensics on the device to recover artifacts which may be text, video, graphic files of what was exchanged between the devices,” said Duque.

Dela Cruz says Snapchat falls under Chapter 19 “because it’s inappropriate behavior.”

Chapter 19 is the DOE’s policy governing student misconduct and there is specific reference to cyber-bullying as an offense.

But the department is also taking a harder look on how to deal with the ever-changing world of social media and applications like Snapchat.

“Leadership will be taking a closer look at how to move forward. It’s just very difficult for us to keep an eye on these things going on,” said Dela Cruz.

Even she admitted that she never heard of Snapchat until our inquiry into the Radford incident.

Radford High School
Radford High School

Fiery plane crash simulated during airport disaster exercise

(Via KHON)

Honolulu International Airport
Honolulu International Airport

Honolulu International Airport was transformed into a disaster zone Wednesday morning, but it was all part of an exercise.

More than 400 volunteers took part in a triennial emergency response exercise, which simulated a full-scale plane crash.

There was even a fireball explosion to help test the response times of emergency operations.

The focus was on “health and safety, being able to attend to our passengers in a timely manner. We cannot replace lives so we need to be well-prepared for this type of event,” said Ross Higashi, Department of Transportation airports deputy director.

The exercise was conducted as a certification requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration, and tested airfield disaster preparedness and response by simulating a full-scale aircraft emergency disaster. The exercise is designed to test and evaluate the operational capacity of emergency response in a stress environment.

“The simulation will tell us where our weaknesses are and again there will be a debriefing on this and of course, this will better coordinate us for the real event, but again I hope this does not ever have to occur,” Higashi said.

Higashi said Wednesday’s exercise showed that everyone passed the test.

The multi-agency exercise, conducted from 7:30 to noon, included the City and County of Honolulu Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, American Medical Response, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam – Federal Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard – Honolulu Sector, FAA, state Department of Public Safety, Aloha Air Cargo and Hawaiian Airlines.

Flight operations continued as normal during the exercise.

airport disaster exercise 2

OCCC staff thwarts inmate’s escape

(Via Star Advertiser)

An inmate tried to escape at about 6 p.m. Monday from the Oahu Community Correctional Center’s Annex 1, but the prison reacted quickly and thwarted the attempt, the Department of Public Safety said in a written statement.

No one left the secured area, Public Safety said.

Annex 1 was placed on lockdown and remained on lockdown at 8 p.m. Monday.

Sheriffs were notified, and the attempted escape is under investigation.

No further details were available Monday night since the matter is under investigation, a Public Safety spokeswoman said.

ARM Cuauhtémoc arrives in Hawaii

(Via Ho’okele News)

101014_3The Mexican ship Cuauhtémoc arrived in Honolulu on Oct. 6 as part of its America 2014 global training cruise. Throughout its history, the ship has sailed the seas of the world to transmit a global message of friendship and goodwill. The ship will set sail today for a port call to Long Beach, Calif.

U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Chase Gentilhomme