County slates public meeting to discuss Hilo landfill closure

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald file photo

    Utility vehicles work Feb. 21 at the Hilo landfill.

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Scrap metal is seen March 21 behind the East Hawaii Regional Sort Station in Hilo.

The county Department of Environmental Management’s Solid Waste Division will host a public informational meeting next week to discuss the upcoming closure of the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill.

The meeting is slated for 5-6 p.m. Wednesday, June 26, in the Aupuni Center conference room, 101 Aupuni St., suite 1, in Hilo.

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Solid Waste Division Chief Greg Goodale said the hope is to reassure people that “there really won’t be any impact to residential users of the transfer stations.”

Residents can continue to take their rubbish to the same transfer stations they always have, he said.

Closure of the landfill, located adjacent to Hilo International Airport, has been talked about for decades.

“… We expect the landfill will run out of space, probably some time in August or September,” Goodale said.

It is anticipated that the landfill will close to commercial use in September, according to a news release issued Monday by Environmental Management that included answers to several frequently asked questions.

Goodale said the county has been meeting with commercial users of the landfill for the past several months.

Instead of the landfill, commercial users will use the East Hawaii sort station, he explained.

However, any commercial loads over 40 cubic yards and any loads requiring special handling, such as refuse coming from seafood processors, construction demolition and medical waste, won’t be able to come to the sort station. It will instead have to be taken to the West Hawaii Sanitary Landfill, Goodale said.

Earlier this year, the state Department of Health sought public comment on a draft permit for the closure.

The closure process has continued and Goodale said the county has since given contractors the notice to proceed. He anticipates work on the closure process itself to begin in August.

Environmental Management Director Bill Kucharski said the department will do the first “synthetic liner closing in the state, and it’s going to be done right. It’s going to probably look better than a lot of other closed landfills in the world.”

There will be two impermeable liners and the top layer will have a “more aesthetically pleasing” impermeable grass-like turf that will protect the underlying liners from UV rays, he said.

The closure could take a year, and the project is estimated to cost $20 million, which Kucharski said the county will borrow from the state revolving fund.

Residential users who frequently used the landfill for disposal will be directed to use the East Hawaii Regional Sort Station, according to the news release.

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East Hawaii transfer stations will continue to open 6 a.m.-6 p.m., with the exception of the Hilo transfer station at the landfill, which is open from 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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