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Closure of Hilo landfill to commence next year

The long-awaited closure of the Hilo landfill is planned to begin next year.

Hawaii County recently advertised the bid process for the closure contract, with bids set to open in late January. The project is estimated to cost about $20 million.

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Bill Kucharski, county Environmental Management director, said the landfill could stop accepting waste in the spring, with rubbish then being hauled to the West Hawaii landfill at Pu‘uanahulu. Residents shouldn’t experience any changes to service since East Hawaii transfer stations will continue to accept waste, he said.

Closure would be complete after an artificial cover and other environmental protections are put in place. That could take a year, Kucharski said.

Closure of the landfill, which is unlined, has been talked about for the past few decades as it nears capacity.

“It’s sort of bittersweet,” Kucharski said. “Yes, it’s good to close an unlined landfill. But it’s not good to say everything you have has to go to the west side.”

He said the county ordered eight garbage trucks to haul waste across the island.

Eventually, those trucks will haul green waste on their return trip to a compost facility proposed to be built at the W.H. Shipman Business Park.

Kucharski said the West Hawaii landfill has an estimated life of 50 years even with acceptance of rubbish from East Hawaii.

Expansion of the Hilo landfill wasn’t seen as feasible because of its proximity to the airport and other concerns.

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State revolving fund loans will be used to pay for the project, Kucharski said.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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