Trash becoming costly problem for Honolulu
SHIPPING some of Oahu's garbage
Three companies have submitted bids to export Oahu's trash to the mainland.
to the mainland is proving to be a far more expensive proposition than city officials had anticipated. At the lowest end, costs for the program would exceed the $7 million budgeted by at least $2 million; at the highest, the overrun would total more than $13 million.
Three companies are competing to win a three-year contract to transport 100,000 tons -- a small portion of the 1.74 million tons of solid waste generated each year on Oahu -- for disposal on the mainland.
The City Council initiated the plan in hopes of diverting trash from the Waimanalo Gulch landfill that has been a focus of controversy in the Leeward district. The idea is to buy some time for the city to work out a long-term blueprint that officials have said includes expansion of the current waste-to-energy facility or an additional plant and islandwide recycling.
At even the lowest bid of $99.83 per ton, funding for fiscal 2008-2009 could fall short. But because shipping isn't expected to begin until the end of this year at the earliest and the total tonnage of waste on which cost is based cannot possibly be transported before cash runs out, officials don't see an immediate problem.
However, $7 million won't cover tolls for future years and the administration and the Council will need to find more money to keep the ships sailing and the program from foundering. That won't be easy.
Unlike on Maui, where residents pay $12 a month for trash disposal, Oahu residents have always had free service. It isn't inconceivable that fees might someday become necessary for city folks, too.
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