STAR-BULLETIN / FEBRUARY 2006
The city is proposing an expansion of its Waimanalo Gulch landfill on the Waianae coast to the Land Use Commission, which encourages the city to find alternatives.
City proposes delaying landfill closing to 2023
Residents oppose extending use of Waimanalo Gulch past its 2008 date
The city wants to use its Waimanalo Gulch Landfill for at least 15 years after its current scheduled closing date of May 1, 2008, upsetting residents in Leeward Oahu.
The extension is based on projections of how long the 200-acre Waianae Coast property could continue to accept garbage at the current rate of about 560,000 tons a year, said Wilma Namumnart, assistant chief of the city Refuse Division.
Here is where Oahu's 1.76 million tons of garbage went in fiscal year 2005:
» HPOWER plant: 623,272 tons
» Recycling facilities: 560,254 tons
» Private landfills: 250,000 tons
» Waimanalo Gulch Landfill: 329,431 tons
Source: City Department of Environmental Services
Time line for Waimanalo Gulch Landfill Expansion
» April-June: Preparation of environmental impact statement (EIS) notice
» July: EIS preparation notice public comment period
» July 31: Status report to Land Use Commission
» May-August: EIS special studies (includes alternatives analysis, traffic impact, archaeology and cultural impact, socioeconomic impact, social impact and flora/fauna impact)
» July-October: Draft EIS
» November-December: Draft EIS comment period
» January-March 2007: Final EIS
» April 2007: Start applications for Department of Health solid-waste, state special-use and other required permits
» April-October: Landfill design
» Before March 2008: Estimated permit approvals
» March 2008: Construction of first expansion cell and infrastructure
» May 2008: Accept waste
Sources: City Department of Environmental Services and state Land Use Commission
The city also presented a time line to do an environmental impact statement and get necessary permits for its proposed landfill expansion.
The landfill's current state special-use and Health Department operating permits both expire in May 2008.
Opponents of keeping a landfill at Waimanalo Gulch were upset yesterday by the news.
"No extension should be granted to the city and its operator (Waste Management of Hawaii) because of its abysmal record," said state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae), who has a lawsuit pending questioning the validity of the environmental impact statement the city did for current landfill operations.
Waste Management is appealing $2.8 million in state Health Department fines for permit violations at the landfill. And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last month that the landfill's gas-handling system was installed seven years late and does not work correctly.
"When does a promise mean anything?" Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board member Frank Slocum said, referring to past statements by city officials that the landfill at Waimanalo Gulch would be closed in 2008. "I'm very disappointed."
Yesterday's report by city officials to the Land Use Commission on its solid-waste handling plans was the first by Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration. When it granted the city its current five-year special-use permit for the landfill, the Land Use Commission attached conditions, including regular reports on the city's progress toward naming a successor landfill location.
In February, Hannemann vetoed a City Council bill that sought to end landfill operations at Waimanalo Gulch after May 2008. That would have left the city with no landfill at all, which would be unacceptable, Hannemann said.
Several councilmembers said they voted for the bill to push the administration to develop a solid-waste plan that includes alternative ways to deal with trash, in addition to a landfill.
Land Use Commissioner Steve Montgomery asked Hannemann administration officials yesterday what the city is doing to reduce the amount of garbage going to the landfill.
Namumnart responded that the city is adding 40 recycling bins to the 75 already present at schools and parks; has built a plant to convert sewage sludge into fertilizer instead of burying it; has begun automation of green waste recycling; has expanded pickup of bulky items; and will seek bids on a new waste-to-energy technology.
Montgomery called the city's progress "not very satisfying."
Paul Burns, Waste Management's general manager at Waimanalo Gulch, told commissioners that the company has made strides during the past year in correcting its shortfalls in operating the landfill.
City Environmental Services Director Eric Takamura told the Land Commission that:
» He considers burning trash to create electricity at the city's HPOWER waste-to-energy plant to be recycling.
» Adding a third boiler to the HPOWER plant -- to make it more reliable and capable of burning more waste -- is "on hold" in favor of seeking bids for a smaller-capacity, more advanced form of waste-to-energy plant.
» Requests for proposals for a new waste-to-energy plant to handle up to 120,000 tons a year will be issued this year.