Wednesday, May 15, 2002

City seeks to expand
landfill on Waianae Coast

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

A top city official is assuring City Council members that there won't be a crisis at the city's Waimanalo Gulch Landfill.

Frank Doyle, city deputy director of environmental services, said he sent a letter to the state Health Department last week asking to modify a permit that would allow the height of the Waianae Coast landfill to increase to 430 feet from the currently allowed 400 feet.

Officials with Waste Management Inc., operator of the landfill, told the Star-Bulletin last month the height of the dump will reach the 400-foot level in roughly three months. Doyle said yesterday that he expects to get approval in 2 1/2 months.

If the approval is not granted, the city would be forced to exceed its allowable limit. That would be a violation of the city's permit and put it at risk of incurring as much as $10,000 in fines a day.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson, however, indicated he likely won't fine the city because the city is acting in good faith and is posing no environmental danger in its actions.

"I think we're going to be all right on that just based on our recent discussions," Doyle told Council members. "They realize that we operate that landfill in a very good manner, so we're looking to get their cooperation and I believe we will."

The additional height will buy the city between eight months and a year.

The city got into the situation because of delays in coming up with a long-term plan for dealing with the city's waste disposal needs. That was compounded when HPOWER, the city's waste-to-energy plant, went down for 108 days last year, which resulted in the landfill filling up faster.

Doyle defended the need to extend the comment period for the plan's environmental impact statement by 375 days.

"Landfills are highly sensitive areas," he said, noting that the comment period allowed for the issues of the opposition to be addressed.

The long-term plan involves increasing the 86-acre facility to 146 acres, and now also adds an expansion of HPOWER, creating a garbage-separation facility and providing land for a company interested in converting waste to hydrogen fuel.

Council Public Works Chairwoman Darrlyn Bunda said she was concerned that the administration did not move to rectify the situation sooner, but is now satisfied that the Environmental Services Department can deal with both the immediate and long-term needs.

E-mail to City Desk


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