Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Dredging disposal
stirs pollution fears

Ala Wai plans would mix silt
into cement for the reef runway

By Diana Leone

Residents of Kalihi Valley expressed concern that plans to place material to be dredged from the Ala Wai Canal onto the airport reef runway could result in pollution affecting the fish and crabs people take from the water at Sand Island.

"What is best for the residents?" asked Maryrose McClelland of the Kalihi Valley Neighborhood Board at an informational meeting yesterday about the planned dredging. "Not just the residents of Manoa, Palolo and Makiki (the areas the Ala Wai drains), but for all the residents in Oahu."

McClelland asked that government officials consider the principle that "you do not take your family opala, or rubbish, and go next door and dump it on your neighbor's yard."

McClelland and others who asked questions about Ala Wai dredging plans did not seem reassured by presentations by representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state departments of Health and Land and Natural Resources.

Yesterday's meeting was organized by Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland and a number of other state lawmakers whose constituents had questions about the project.

Among the points raised by the government officials addressing the gathering were:

>> That the majority of the material (169,500 cubic yards of 173,000 cubic yards to be removed from the Ala Wai) was tested as not hazardous to human or marine life and is required to be disposed of at one specific site three miles off the coast of Pearl Harbor. The disposal site is where dredged material from the bottom of Pearl Harbor, Barbers Point and Honolulu Harbor has been deposited for 100 years, said Bill Lennan II, with the Corps of Engineers.

"We cannot go any other place," emphasized Hiram Young, a Department of Land and Natural Resources engineer. "If I wanted to go (take the dredged material) to Waikiki or to Kailua side," he told the audience, "the answer would be no."

>> That any rubbish found in the sediment -- be it shopping carts, marine batteries, etc. -- will be separated from the silt and disposed of in a landfill.

>> That the remainder of the silt, which contains lead or pesticides in unacceptable levels for ocean disposal, will be mixed with concrete to stabilize it and used to build up the sunken area makai of the reef runway at Honolulu Airport.

That latter material is "nonhazardous but did not meet the stringent standards for ocean disposal," Young said.

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