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Hotel cleans up
An estimated 132,000 gallons of sewage spilled onto the beach Saturday, and state health officials shut it down.
The spill came after three days of heavy rain on Kauai, which caused several sinkholes on the hotel property.
It is not yet clear whether the sinkholes caused the pavement to collapse on the sewer pipe or the broken sewer pipe caused the sinkholes, said Stan Brown, vice president of Pacific Islands and Japan, Marriott International.
The largest of the sinkholes is immediately adjacent to the main entrance to the hotel. Yesterday, work crews using heavy equipment hauled away a banyan tree, several coconut palms and a Cook pine that had fallen into the hole.
In the nearby guest parking lot, the asphalt collapsed in at least two places, one of them swallowing a parked rental car that has since been towed away.
Brown said that other than the inconvenience of losing the parking lot and the need to offer to shuttle guests to other beaches, there has been no effect on the hotel's operations.
The Marriott, the third-largest hotel on Kauai, was full during the holiday weekend.
While Brown has accepted responsibility for the effluent spill on behalf of the hotel's sewage treatment plant, state health officials said yesterday that it actually was caused by the Kauai County facility, state Health Department spokeswoman Laura Lott said.
The effluent spill was not the first to close Kalapaki Bay to swimmers in recent years, but it was the first to be blamed on the hotel's in-house sewage treatment plant. Kauai County's nearby Lihue waste-water treatment plant has malfunctioned and poured treated effluent into the bay in the past.
A decade ago the entire bay was filled with gasoline when a fuel tank at a gas station ruptured.
Several lawsuits were filed by hotel guests who claimed their skin was burned by the gasoline floating on the surface of the bay.
Brown said he is unaware of any history of sinkholes on the property. The hotel, originally called the Kauai Surf, was rebuilt following Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and purchased by the Westin chain. It was heavily damaged again in 1992's Hurricane Iniki, rebuilt and acquired by Marriott.
"We're trying to figure out how to fix it. I can't say if we'll fully restore all the landscaping or do something fairly simple. We won't know that for a few days," Brown said.