Repair at landfill makes garbage scale ‘better’
The garbage scale at the city's Waimanalo Gulch Landfill is working "much better" after a weekend fix, its operators said yesterday.
But workers continued Monday and yesterday to weigh trucks before and after they dumped their loads. That precaution has been in effect since June 12, when operators reported that scale weights appeared to be off 4,000 to 6,000 pounds on large loads.
Young Scale, which has serviced the scale for years, was expected to recalibrate it last night, said Paul Burns, the landfill manager for Waste Management, which runs the city-owned landfill under contract.
Current and former scale operators have said there were problems with the scale's accuracy as far back as last fall, though not as severe as during the last few weeks.
Burns told reporters at the landfill yesterday that the recent scale problem wasn't mentioned to the City Council last week because "to us, this is routine maintenance." He said prior problems were different issues than the most recent repair, which replaced a rusted-out support for one of the electronic sensors on the drive-on scale.
Toledo Scale manager Sam Elarionoff said Friday that last week's repair work would cost about $10,000.
Burns wouldn't estimate yesterday how much money the city might have lost by the scale underweighing incoming garbage. The city charges private haulers $92 per ton to put trash in the landfill.
Mayor Mufi Hannemann asked Waste Management in a phone call Monday to replace the scale as soon as possible, Burns and city spokesman Bill Brennan said.
Waste Management and the city had "been in discussions" about a new scale for six months or more, Burns said. But the recent malfunctions prompted the decision to go ahead and get a new scale, he said.
A new scale should cost about $125,000 to $150,000 installed, Burns said. The earliest a new scale can be ordered and installed would probably be eight weeks, he said.
Meanwhile, Councilman Charles Djou called yesterday for the city to cancel its management contract with Waste Management.
"If it was just the scale, I could be patient," Djou said, even though he questioned whether the broken scale "may have caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars."
But Djou said he believes there is a pattern of mismanagement by Waste Management. Over the past two years, the landfill:
» has been cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for improper gas releases;
» is appealing a pending $2.8 million fine by the state Health Department;
» has had underground "hot spot" fires;
» has been the focus of bribery allegations against a Waste Management employee, who was fired yesterday.
Waste Management and the city said last week they plan to ask for a 20-month extension to their joint state Health Department permit to operate the landfill. The current permit expires in May 2008.
City spokesman Brennan had no reaction to Djou's proposal yesterday.