Oahu short of sites for unwelcome landfills
Two private waste disposal operations have been proposed for Leeward Oahu.
LEEWARD OAHU residents can't be thrilled that two landfill operations have been proposed
in their communities. Still smarting from a contentious decision by the city to keep the municipal Waimanalo gulch open, opposition to the private disposal sites can be expected. Though both proposals attempt to mitigate disagreeable effects, the sense among residents that the rest of Oahu considers their district the dumping grounds will be more difficult to overcome.
The problem is that there are few places on the island where unpleasant wastes can be disposed of without affecting people, landscape and water sources. Open spaces in Central Oahu and farther north are pegged for housing development, remain useful for agriculture or are controlled by the military.
However, as the population and business enterprises grow, the need for disposal sites grows in tandem. In addition, there is money to be made in trash. At present, the city charges businesses about $90 a ton in "tipping fees" to dump wastes at the landfill, and private refuse companies want to fill the rising demand.
In one proposal, a partnership of three companies wants to set up a composting operation on 172 acres of land in Nanakuli. The companies say they will lessen usual problems of smell and litter -- a key concern for nearby residents -- by covering garbage with a fabric normally used for technical outdoor gear and by accelerating decomposition. The process promises to reduce organic garbage quickly, cutting the mass of material to be buried.
The other landfill proposal would accommodate construction and demolition wastes that do not usually produce the bad odors associated with dumps, but it would be situated close to Maili Elementary School, raising safety and noise issues as truck traffic increases into the area. The company says it will control runoff, dust and traffic and contribute funds to area schools to make the landfill more bearable.
Both projects will face some community opposition. The Maili landfill, first proposed last year, has already been resisted by the Waianae Neighborhood Board and was initially rejected by the city Planning Commission, but after a challenge of the commission's vote, the project was revived and approved.
The proposals still need clearances from various state and city agencies before they can begin operations. Even if they do, the problem of waste disposal will continue to place a burden on Oahu's limited spaces.
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