Plan would transfer trash — temporarily
By NANCY COOK LAUER
Stephens Media Hawaii
A move is afoot to again truck Hilo garbage to the West Hawaii landfill, at least temporarily.
Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi is in the process of drafting legislation to create an exemption to the county’s current ban on trucking more eastside garbage to the landfill at Puuanahulu. The exemption would be in effect while the West Hawaii landfill crews work on establishing a 6-foot layer of “select waste” on the bottom of a new cell.
An uproar ensued last year when the county began a stealth program of trucking Hilo garbage westward in order to compare the costs of trucking garbage to expanding the Hilo landfill. That practice, once exposed by Stephens Media Hawaii, ended with the County Council voting 8-0 to prohibit hauling of East Hawaii garbage to West Hawaii, except under an emergency declaration by the mayor.
Onishi said an exemption is needed while the new Puuanahulu cell is filled with the crucial bottom layer of soft garbage. New cells are opened at the landfill every year to year-and-a-half, said Mike Kaha, site manager for Waste Management of Hawaii, which runs the Puuanahulu landfill.
The bottom layer has to be first sifted to remove debris over 24 inches long or anything that could pierce the lining and lead to leachate, Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd said Friday.
It’s taken a month to get about one-third of that layer down, said Kaha.
“I think that’s a great idea,” Kaha said of Onishi’s planned legislation.
Onishi said he learned about the issue during a recent meeting with Environmental Management staff. He said the department is currently working two crews, one at each of the cells. He hasn’t yet gotten the figures he’s requested, but he believes the county would save money by sending additional garbage to fill that bottom layer.
“If we can save money, and if it’s a large amount, it’s worth it to do that,” Onishi said.
Ka‘u/South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford was skeptical about the plan.
“They’ve been trying to send Hilo garbage to Kona for two decades,” Ford said. “They would love nothing better than to truck Hilo garbage with their fire ants and coqui frogs. We don’t want their pests.”
Garbage from 12 transfer stations is already being trucked to the West Hawaii landfill, which has an expected life span of another 38 years, or 27 years if the Hilo garbage stream is added. Garbage as far east as Laupahoehoe on the north side of the island and Naalehu on the south side is currently trucked west to Puuanahulu.
A consultant’s report last year estimated county could save up to $1.5 million annually by trucking East Hawaii’s garbage to West Hawaii rather than expanding the Hilo landfill. Despite increases in fuel prices, the report countered a 2009 study that found just the opposite — that it’s cheaper to expand the Hilo landfill to handle eastside garbage.
The Hilo landfill has as much as nine years of life left, according to the most recent estimates.
The 226-page report, by consultant R.W. Beck, says uncertainties with federal, state and county permits and zoning, the landfill’s proximity to Hilo International Airport and the area’s heavy rainfall and highly porous land all contribute to it being a poor choice for landfill expansion. In addition, the county would likely be required to install an expensive landfill gas collection and control system, the study says.
Email Nancy Cook Lauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.