Hilo landfill could have its life span extended
State approval hinges on county plans to increase site capacity
HILO » The Hilo landfill has less than a year left in capacity, but if county officials are able to show the state how they can extend the life of the dump, then the Department of Health could approve an extension, an official said.
Hawaii County environmental management staff met with Department of Health officials in Honolulu last week to discuss the landfill closure, said Steve Chang, branch chief for the department's Solid and Hazardous Waste Division.
"There is six to 12 months' capacity for the landfill, and they think they can modify the design of the landfill to operate it for two and a half more years," Chang said.
The maximum height of the pyramid-shaped landfill is 196 feet, with slopes that incline at a 4-to-1 ratio. The county's environmental management staff proposed steepening the slopes to a 2.5-to-1 ratio, Chang said.
Hawaii County would need to submit a proposed redesign for the health department to consider the extension.
Although steepening is possible, Chang said the county needs to make sure it complies with the requirements for landfill operation.
"We're planning to issue them a permit with the landfill life ending December 2006, which requires a closure process once they reach landfill capacity," he said.
"If they reach capacity sooner, they have to go into closure mode under the current conditions, unless they can come in and show us an alternative design which allows them to increase the capacity," Chang said.
Environmental Management Director Barbara Bell said the county plans to submit an application to extend the life of the landfill by the end of the year.
"It's a serious application," she said.
The best-case scenario for solving East Hawaii's trash problem would be if the Department of Health grants a 2.5-year extension for the Hilo landfill while the county seeks proposals for waste reduction technology and "long and intermediate solutions."
"The long-term solution won't avoid longhauling, the intermediate-, or short-term, solution would," she said.
But the landfill could close between March and December 2006, she said.
"Then we haul directly from the 21 transfer stations and the commercial haulers hauling themselves" to Puuanahulu in West Hawaii, she said.
There could be up to 93 truckloads of trash per day, based on the traffic count at the Hilo landfill, she said.