STAR-BULLETIN / FEBRUARY 2006
The Land Use Commission held a hearing yesterday on whether to extend for two years the May 1 deadline for closing the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill. Here, two Caterpillar-like vehicles compact trash while a truck dumps waste.
State seeks resolution to landfill issue
Panelists want the city to pursue alternatives, not extend deadlines
The state Land Use Commission wants assurances that the city will not return two years from now with another request to extend the deadline to close the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill.
"How does this commission get assurances that we won't be sitting in here with a new administration?" Commissioner Reuben Wong asked a city attorney.
The commission held a hearing yesterday on whether to extend for two years the May 1 deadline for closing the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, which has raised a stink among Leeward Coast residents.
"The blight that goes on in the roads and the ocean is unfortunate," said Mike Nelson, vice president of the Ko Olina Resort Operators Association. "We're asking you to make a stand on behalf of all in the Leeward Coast. ... Close it down."
Mayor Mufi Hannemann has pushed for the permit extension until May 1, 2010, saying that keeping the landfill open is the cheapest option and that there is not enough time for the permitting and approval of another site.
The city also unearthed stone formations and needs to determine whether the rocks are culturally significant. That will not happen by May 1, city officials said.
But Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, representing the Ko Olina Community Association, said she has her doubts that the city will be able to find alternate means of waste management, given that provisions for the current agreement were set in 2003.
One condition of the permit was for the city to find other means of waste management, like shipping and HPOWER boilers. A third HPOWER boiler is planned for 2011, and a shipping contract is not expected to start until July 2009.
"This has been on the books since 2003," Hanabusa said. "There's very little possibility they will be able to move to these technologies any time soon."
Commissioners asked city officials for a time line on all expected waste-management projects by this morning.
City Deputy Corporation Counsel Gary Takeuchi said the City Council has been aggressive in pushing a waste management agenda and has appropriated $5 million for the shipping contract, which has a bid due date of May 14.
He also said shipping will take so long to start up because of the winning contractor having to place the infrastructure necessary for the work.
Hanabusa suggested that denying the permit extension would get the city to expedite funding and projects.
Commissioners also asked city officials what could be done if the permit were not extended. Takeuchi said the city might have no choice but to continue operating the landfill in violation and face state fines or ask Gov. Linda Lingle for an emergency declaration. The hearing continues this morning.
"There's nothing sinister or untoward here," Takeuchi said, "and to characterize it as some sort of accident waiting to happen ... it's irresponsible and incorrect."