Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

Kaua'i finally may solve junked-car crisis

By Jan TenBruggencate
Advertiser Kaua'i Bureau

PUHI, Kauai — Kauai’s half-decade of misery over junked automobiles may end in a few months.

The county is seeking bidders to run a $1 million metals recycling facility that will collect, process and ship away old vehicles, as well as appliances and scrap metal.

Officials hope a full-time facility dedicated to the problem will mean an end, finally, to the littering of the island with old wrecks.

Ever since 1996 when the state Transportation Department closed the Masterworks junkyard near Lihue Airport, junked cars have been a problem.

County officials have estimated as many as 1,500 rusting hulks have been abandoned along cane field roads, at beaches and along public highways. It grew so bad that the island’s nickname was sometimes changed from the Garden Island to the Garbage Island. The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press reported on the problem.

The county would launch islandwide cleanups, storing old cars in makeshift lots, only to find hundreds more on the streets within months.

The new recycling facility, within Grove Farm Co.’s Puhi industrial park, covers 10 acres. It cost the county $1,023,000 and has an auto storage area, processing building, office, parking, and other facilities.

The county hopes to issue a five-year contract to operate its Puhi Metals Recycling Center, with options for two more five-year terms.

It was completed in June 2000, but county solid waste coordinator Troy Tanigawa said an initial effort to find an operator failed.

"The cost came in too high, and there were problems with bonding and other requirements," he said.

A new request for proposals was issued Dec. 29, and 33 firms — from the Islands and the Mainland — having expressed interest in bidding. Other interested bidders can call the county purchasing office at 241-6288.Bids will be accepted through Feb. 14.

The contract involves running the plant and towing away derelict vehicles. Tanigawa said the county hopes an operator would also establish a program for the sale of used auto parts from the junked vehicles, but that is not a requirement.

A meeting for proposed bidders is Jan. 16 with a site visit to follow.

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