Dennis Oda / email@example.com
A blessing and ceremony marked the start of the cleanup of an old landfill adjacent to the beach at Bellows Air Force Station yesterday. Participants in the groundbreaking included Todd Lanning, Andrew Jamila Jr., Col. Dean Wolford, Steve Mow, Cindy Liu, Col. Robert Rice, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and project manager Jeff Cotter. On the far right was Kahu Wendell Silva, who performed the blessing.
Long-awaited Bellows cleanup nears
A blessing ceremony heralds the clearing of a WWII-era landfill
Some Waimanalo residents are elated that the cleanup of a former landfill near Bellows Beach will begin soon after a decade of inaction by the federal government because of a lack of funding.
"I'm very happy," said Andrew Jamila Jr., co-chairman of the Bellows Restoration Advisory Board.
A blessing ceremony was held yesterday at the landfill site near Bellows Beach called LF24 or "Pier Dump." Cleanup of the 1-acre site is slated to begin Sept. 22 and be completed in December.
Members of the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, 15th Airlift Wing, Hickam Air Force Base and the Waimanalo community will work together to clear and restore the site for training and recreational use.
The site was used as a landfill and burn pit area during World War II between 1942 and 1945. Scrap metal, wires, cables glass bottles and cans were among the items dumped in the landfill. About one to three feet of sand covers the site, which is surrounded by a fence and obscured by grass and ironwood trees.
For years the community requested the military to clear the landfill, but funding was not available. Military officials said they could not obtain funding after no toxic levels of contaminants were found at the site during investigations between 1996 and 2005. The findings prompted the Air Force to propose a "No Further Action" plan.
Infuriated, Jamila and other residents e-mailed, wrote letters and called U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono for assistance. With the gradual erosion of the beach, area residents feared buried trash would potentially enter the ocean because the landfill is less than 100 feet from the shoreline.
Hirono secured $2 million for the cleanup in August 2007. The Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment was awarded the contract in March.
About 5,000 cubic yards will be excavated and sorted for recycling and disposal, said Todd Lanning, chief of the Environmental Restoration Program with the 15th Air Lift Wing. Items to be disposed of will be taken to the PVT Landfill in Nanakuli.
An archaeologist will be at the site during the cleanup should any artifacts or iwi, or bones, be discovered. Sand from other parts of Bellows and coral material from Kapolei will be used to fill the site. Native plants such as naupaka will also be planted.