Height limit rises at Nanakuli dump
The state approval is one requirement for the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill to stay open
The state Department of Health has approved raising height restrictions on garbage dumped at Waimanalo Gulch Landfill -- a condition required before extending the special use permit to keep the landfill open for two more years.
Meanwhile, the Land Use Commission put off a decision yesterday on extending the special use permit until it can consider motions filed by state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa and the Ko Olina Community Association, who are seeking to intervene in the process.
The commission plans to consider those motions at its next scheduled meeting in March.
Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) and the community association are among those opposed to granting an extension beyond the landfill's scheduled closing date of May 1. Opponents who have long complained about health issues that they say stem from having the landfill in their community argue the city is not doing enough to address the problem.
The city says it has few options and wants to extend the life of the landfill through 2010 while it continues to explore trash disposal alternatives for Oahu.
Changes to the height restrictions, approved this week, come about two months after landfill operator Waste Management Inc. agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a dispute with the Health Department over numerous violations, among them filling the landfill with ash above permitted heights.
"This was an unfinished piece of business with regard to their legal status," said Lawrence Lau, state deputy director for environmental health. "We did hold a public hearing, reviewed all the comments and thought this was appropriate to do."
Lau noted that the change in height restrictions does not automatically extend the life of the special use permit.
"That's a separate application which is pending before us," he said. "We consider that other application, to extend the permit, incomplete because under our rules they need to show they have all the proper land use approvals, and in this case that would include the Land Use Commission."
Hanabusa and the Ko Olina Community Association were granted permission to take part in the process when the special use permit extension was before the city Planning Commission last month.
They are seeking similar participation as the state panel considers the permit application. Being a party to the case would allow them to question testifiers and raise issues to support their argument for denying the extension.
The Planning Commission approved the extension, though some members criticized the city for waiting until the last minute to seek the extension and leaving them little choice.