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Firm will push ahead with trash shipping


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POSTED: Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Seattle-based company expects to move ahead with plans to start shipping Honolulu's trash from private haulers to the mainland despite objections from the city administration, which may sue to halt the process.

Hawaiian Waste Systems Chief Executive Officer Jim Hodge did not have an exact start date, but said yesterday he is ready to begin and he expects the service to withstand a court challenge.

“;If you stand back a long way and look at it—it's the opportunity to have a third, environmentally (friendly) and economical disposal alternative for Honolulu,”; Hodge said yesterday. “;This will all shake out.”;

Hodge spoke after the City Council deferred a resolution that would have allowed private companies to haul up to 150,000 tons of solid waste off island each year.

Council members said they wanted more time to consider the resolution as well as a separate bill, introduced yesterday, that would establish the Council's intentions on trash shipping as an ordinance.

Even without the resolution, Council members say they believe Hodge can legally start shipping.

The city administration disagrees.

Tim Steinberger, director of environmental services, said the city believes it has the statutory authority over “;flow control,”; the power to determine what solid waste goes to the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, what goes to the island's HPOWER plant for conversion to energy and what would be shipped.

Council Chairman Todd Apo said the Council believes the city only controls the flow of solid waste to the HPOWER plant to fulfill contractual obligations of supplying 567,000 tons a year.

Steinberger has said the department will take whatever actions are necessary to preserve flow control. But any litigation would have to be approved by the Council.

“;If the city does, in fact, get into that fight, I think we're going to be in a difficult situation,”; Apo said.

“;I will support litigation to provide the city with flow control if we need it for HPOWER—I think the entire Council would, based on discussions we've had,”; he added. “;If the litigation is to control waste to the landfill, I don't know how much support there will be for that.”;

The company already has built a $10 million processing facility on Oahu, based on the belief that it would be awarded the contract for being the low bidder on the project. The company also has an agreement with a yard facility in central Washington state that would accept the trash.

But last month, the city notified Hodge that the bid would not be accepted because the company had been “;non- responsive”; in getting proper permits and for prematurely constructing a weigh station at its processing facility, raising questions about who would control the trash flow.