Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024|
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Hawaii County is moving forward with securing new semi-trucks to continue hauling rubbish from East Hawaii to West Hawaii.
Resolution 47-23 authorizes the Department of Environmental Management to spend $25,800 per month, or nearly $1.5 million over the next five years, to lease six semi-trucks to transport rubbish from the East Hawaii Regional Sort Station to the West Hawaii Sanitary Landfill in Puuanahulu.
“We come before you for replacement of equipment that is way past their lifespan. The mileage for the six tractor-trailers was in the 600-700,000 range. These tractors are utilized to transport waste from East to west Hawaii to the West Hawaii Landfill,” Department of Environmental Management Director Ramzi Mansour told the Finance Committee Tuesday.
The West Hawaii Sanitary Landfill in Puuanahulu is the island’s lone landfill, taking trash from all county transfer stations and the regional sort station after the closure of the Hilo Landfill in 2019. The facility in South Kohala accepted 203,000 tons of waste in 2022, up from 196,631 in 2021.
“We have 21 transfer stations and four to five trucks that do two trips a day,” Mansour told the Finance Committee Tuesday. “As we stand now, we don’t have enough equipment to do our current operation.”
The department currently has 39 semi-trucks in its fleet, but only 23 are currently running. The rest are inactive or disposed, with some trucks dating back to 1991. The trucks being replaced are about 20 to 25 years old.
“The way we look at equipment inventory is to look at the year it was purchased, the amount of maintenance that was done in these particular years and the amount of mileage the vehicle has,” he said. “We live on an island and it is hard to find parts. Unfortunately, every time we have a breakdown, it takes a long time to get a vehicle fixed.”
Three trucks were ordered in the last fiscal year, but those are not expected to be delivered until August since it takes over a year from the time of purchase until the county takes delivery.
“So even if we order these now, we are looking at receiving them sometime in 2024-25 fiscal year,” he said.
Mansour said it’s common knowledge that transporting waste from East Hawaii to West Hawaii is not sustainable, however, any transition from the current model of operation would take at least 10 years before the county could even break ground on a new landfill facility in East Hawaii.
The semi-trucks will be purchased on a five-year lease to own basis, Mansour said. He said the county would consult with Corporation Counsel to specify on the bid who would be responsible for warranty repair and maintenance of the vehicles, though it was more likely than not that the county would be responsible for performing repairs.
Hamakua Council member Heather Kimball asked whether the department had considered using alternative fuel vehicles for this type of truck.
Mansour said the county has looked at hydrogen-powered vehicles, but the technology is not quite there yet for 18-wheelers.
“Hopefully, with technology as they move to bigger vehicles, that would be an option,” he said. “But given the condition of our vehicles, we don’t have the time to wait. We need the tractors.”
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