Firm says it could ship trash next year
A regulatory hurdle and city opposition await the company
The first shipment of garbage from Hawaii to the mainland could occur as early as next summer, said an official with a company hoping to ship trash from Oahu to a landfill in Washington state.
Jim Hodge, chief executive officer of the Seattle-based Hawaiian Waste Systems, said only one more regulatory hurdle needs to be met before completing the steps to begin shipping operations.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved rules last year that will allow garbage that has been baled and wrapped to be shipped between Hawaii and the mainland.
"Then each applicant needed to make an application independently, and USDA did an environment review specifically to Roosevelt Regional Landfill in the state of Washington, and that process was just finished in the last two or three days at the end of the year," Hodge said. "That allows waste from the state of Hawaii to go from Hawaii to Roosevelt Regional Landfill if you incorporate the specific technology that was part of the environmental review -- in other words, the baling and wrapping -- under a certain set of regulatory parameters."
Hodge said the company has applied to the state Department of Health for a solid-waste permit for a facility at Campbell Industrial Park, where trash will be compacted and wrapped.
"That's in the final evaluation process," he said. "Then we have to actually build the compaction facility, but we think that will be a period of three to six months."
Hodge said that his company has an agreement with Oahu trash hauler Rolloffs Hawaii.
But the city says it will oppose any private agreement over shipping trash from Oahu because the movement of solid waste on Oahu is in the city's purview.
"State law says that if the county implements a waste-to-energy facility, we have control over the waste," said Eric Takamura, director of the city Department of Environmental Services. "Our plan right now would be to oppose (waste) flow control."
The city expects to put out a call for bid proposals on Tuesday from a waste-to-energy facility expansion and on a new contract to operate the current HPOWER garbage-to-energy plant. The city also expects to complete a 25-year solid-waste management study before summer that will detail the city's long-range plans for trash including what to do with the Waimanalo Gulch landfill.
"I think that waste export is an important disposal alternative to have," Hodge said. "We're saying we don't anticipate that waste export will ever be the principal disposal alternative; we think that the city and the private haulers should look at export as disposal component."
City Councilman Todd Apo, whose district includes Waimanalo Gulch landfill, agrees. A resolution that he has authored keeping the shipping of garbage as an alternative is up for final Council approval Jan. 24.
"We need to keep that open as an option and take a look at, 'Hey, does it make sense to contract with a company to dispose of our solid waste that way?'" Apo said.
Apo said he is concerned that during the federal rule-making the city administration sent a letter opposing shipping garbage off island.