Lora Lyn, in forefront, was among those opposing the continued use of Waimanalo Gulch as a landfill at yesterday's meeting of the City Council's Public Works and Economic Development Committee. The panel decided to put the next landfill in Ewa after the gulch closes in 2008; that proposal heads for a full Council vote Dec. 1.


A Council panel trashes five
landfill ideas to pick a site

In a surprise move, a City Council committee voted yesterday to put Honolulu's next landfill on 23 acres of city land next to the HPOWER waste-to-energy plant in Ewa.

The 11th-hour decision ignored five finalist sites among which the Public Works and Economic Development Committee was expected to choose: Maili, Makaiwa Gulch, Nanakuli and an expansion of Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, all on the Leeward Coast, and Kapaa Quarry in Kailua.

Committee Chairman Rod Tam said he proposed the smaller Campbell Industrial Park site as a temporary solution to push the city to rapidly develop new technologies to deal with trash. He said landfills should be a last resort.

The site chosen by a 4-0 vote will accommodate, at most, two years of Oahu's garbage, said Environmental Services Director Frank Doyle, who called it "not a good site."

This compares to life expectancies of 15 to 25 years at the other five sites, which range in size from 60 to more than 300 acres and passed an extensive screening process.

City Managing Director Ben Lee, who was not at the meeting, criticized the choice of the 23-acre site as "absolutely not feasible.

"It's absolutely flat. Are they thinking they're going to create a mountain of solid waste? I think they've made a terrible mistake," he said.

The full Council is scheduled to vote Dec. 1 on where to put the city's next landfill, to comply with a state Land Use Commission deadline to name a new landfill.

Public Works Committee members Tam, Mike Gabbard, Charles Djou, and Ann Kobayashi, plus nonmember Barbara Marshall, heard 4 1/2 hours of public testimony about the landfill site yesterday. Committee member Romy Cachola was absent.

None of the dozens of people who testified yesterday wanted the landfill in their back yard. Reasons ranged from smell and sanitation to traffic concerns. Some noted the city administration's promise not to keep the landfill at Waimanalo Gulch past May 2008, when its current permit expires.

With the Ihilani resort in the background, trucks unload waste at the busy Waimanalo Gulch landfill. Most industrial waste, which HPOWER cannot use, is dumped here.

"It's an insult to my community to propose a landfill in the heart of our town (Nanakuli)," said Patty Teruya, a member of the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board. She urged the committee to keep the landfill where it is, in Waimanalo Gulch, which the city estimates could be expanded and made to last 20 more years.

A number of people testified against putting the landfill at Kapaa Quarry, citing the effects on the island construction business and overall economy if Ameron Quarry had to move or scale back its operations.

Djou proposed the Nanakuli site as the "least worst site," despite its drawbacks, but couldn't get anyone to go along with him.

Kamaki Kanahele, president of the Nanakuli Homestead Association and an opponent of any landfill, said that if Nanakuli is chosen, native Hawaiians would sue the city on the basis of environmental injustice.

Early in yesterday's testimony, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa (D, Waianae) reminded Council members that the Leeward Coast, which has high native Hawaiian population and poverty rates, has an unfair proportion of Oahu's power plants, landfills, and other undesirable facilities.

The city bought the 23-acre parcel from Campbell Estate two years ago, with the intention of making it a place where alternate technologies for dealing with solid waste could be developed.

Kobayashi said she voted for the small site as a way to force the city to get serious about developing alternate technologies for disposing of the trash. These new technologies can be installed inside the HPOWER plant, "like installing a new engine," she said.

Lee disagreed and said the Council is running away from its responsibility to choose a landfill site. "Nobody wants it in their Council district and they're trying to rationalize that this is a suitable site for landfill," he said.

Djou said he voted for the site next to HPOWER, "to further discussion." Among the questions Djou said he has about the site are: whether there are Federal Aviation Administration rules about how high it could be built; whether a landfill in Kalaeloa could jeopardize the possible location of a Navy aircraft carrier here; and whether it would comply with the Land Use Commission order.

Between now and the Dec. 1 meeting, city solid waste staff will brief Council members on why the named site won't work, Lee said.

"I'm a little concerned about it, but at least I'm satisfied it's not in Waimanalo Gulch or anywhere on the Leeward Coast," said Cynthia Rezentes of the Waianae Coast Neighborhood Board.



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