Landfill to stay open until 2012


POSTED: Friday, September 25, 2009

The closing of the Waimanalo Gulch landfill has been pushed back again.

By a 5-3 decision, the state Land Use Commission voted yesterday to extend the life of the landfill by three years to July 31, 2012.

State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, the major opponent of keeping the landfill open, said she does not expect the city to live up to the deadline, citing past promises that have not been fulfilled.

“;We're going to be here in 2012,”; Hanabusa, whose Senate district includes the landfill, said after the decision. “;It just shows you that to them, to make that decision to actually shut something down and to find a new site is something that the city is not willing to do, and the commissioners are not willing to hold them responsible.”;

Hanabusa cited a promise made in 1999 to have the landfill closed by 2005, only to have the city petition for extensions to May 2008 and again to Nov. 1 of this year.

“;The city is going to continue to do this as they've done it in the past,”; said Hanabusa, who lives in Ko Olina, in the shadow of the landfill in Leeward Oahu.

;[Preview]  Waimanalo Landfill

The Waimanalo Landfill will remain open until 2012

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Mayor Mufi Hannemann has argued that the promises to close the landfill were made before he was elected in 2004. The city says the landfill is needed for at least another 15 years while alternative technologies are developed for dealing with Oahu's trash.

Tim Steinberger, city director of environmental services, said he was disappointed with the ruling, but called it better than no extension at all.

“;I'm going to have to discuss with corporation counsel now what our options are,”; Steinberger said. “;Obviously, we're going to have to look and see—if the 2012 is a firm date—how we're going to fund taking care of our (solid waste) beyond that time.”;

The Land Use Commission went against the recommendation of the city Planning Commission, which approved an extension of the landfill permit last month with no time deadline and the condition that the city begin the process of selecting a new site within a year.

Extending the permit to 2012 gives the city time to get a long-discussed third boiler up and running at the HPOWER waste-to-energy facility. The boiler is scheduled to be ready by late 2011 or early 2012.

Other means of disposing of trash, such as the islandwide curbside recycling program and the recent move to ship trash to the mainland, are expected to ease the burden on the landfill.

After July 31, 2012, only ash and residue from HPOWER would be allowed at Waimanalo Gulch. The new permit also allows the city to expand the site from its current size of about 96 acres to a total of 200 acres, with conditions on when blasting can take place and the size of the berms to be built.





This is how members of the state Land Use Commission voted on the Waimanalo Gulch landfill. A “;yes”; vote was in favor of extending the landfill's operating permit to July 31, 2012, with certain conditions.
        VOTING YES
        Ransom A.K. Piltz, chairman
        Reuben S.F. Wong, vice chairman
        Thomas Contrades
        Duane Kanuha
        Nicholas W. Teves Jr.
        VOTING NO
        Kyle Chock
        Lisa M. Judge
        Normand R. Lezy
        Vladimir P. Devens, vice chairman


The City Council and city administration also are required to hold quarterly public hearings to inform the community about the progress in having the site close on deadline—including what money is being made available toward that end—and any preparation for a new landfill site.

Commissioner Normand Lezy, who voted against the permit, agreed with an argument by Hanabusa, noting that previous permits were clear on when the site should close and that members should stand by the “;integrity”; of past decisions.

“;It's become a self-fulfilling prophecy,”; Lezy said. “;We have to keep having a landfill because the necessary and admittedly somewhat difficult steps that have to be taken to make it unnecessary to have a landfill simply haven't been made.”;