Coast Guard investigates sewage spill at Sand Island

The Coast Guard is investigating a sewage discharge from a cutter at Coast Guard Base Sand Island Tuesday.

At approximately 9:30 a.m. Monday, a crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau reported the smell of sewage to the Engineer of the Watch. The Engineer of the Watch went to the side of the ship and observed brown water flowing overboard through the sewage discharge port intended for use only at sea and immediately secured the system.

The Engineer determined the cause of the improper discharge to be the misalignment of the overboard discharge valve, which was locked in accordance with the procedures for entering port, but incorrectly in the open position.

Further investigation revealed that this valve had been open since the cutter returned to port on Friday at approximately 6:30 p.m.

In the 63 hours since mooring, the ship’s sewage system, which is set to pump when the holding tank reaches approximately 1,250 gallons, had automatically discharged four times. The contents of the tank include wastewater from the sinks and showers aboard and whatever sewage is produced.

Immediately upon discovering the improper discharge, the cutter reported the incident to the Hawaii Dept. of Health and the Coast Guard National Response Center.

“As one of our missions is to protect the environment, I take this very seriously,” said Capt. Richard Mourey, commanding officer of Cutter Morgenthau. “We will take the necessary steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

The Coast Guard will work closely with the State to determine if any further actions are required.

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