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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Nanakuli landfill to deal with dust problem

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

NANAKULI — Recent high winds have sent clouds of dust and dirt swirling into the air in Nanakuli near construction at PVT Landfill, making a mess of residents' homes and raising health concerns. But the company president says he is taking measures to keep the dust down and make sure the problem is not repeated.

Jana Kauhaahaa says construction dust from a nearby landfill blows into her Nanakuli home even when the door is closed. The Mohihi Street resident is worried about how the dirt may affect her baby.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Jana Kauhaahaa bought her Mohihi Street home seven months ago and lives there with her boyfriend and 3-month-old son.

"When the wind blows it forces the dirt right through my door, even if it is closed," Kauhaahaa said. "I had to tape around the door to keep the dirt from getting in."

Kauhaahaa said the dirt is very fine and gets into her baby's nose, which has been bleeding, and she is worried it may be causing breathing problems.

"Every day I have to take all that out from his nose," Kauhaahaa said . "My biggest concern is my baby. It's so bad."

PVT Landfill, on Lualualei Naval Road, has been in business for about 12 years and operates on 135 acres used to bury construction and demolition debris.

Company president Albert Shigemura said they take in rocks, dirt, concrete and wood rubbish. He said they do not collect household garbage like at the city's Waimanalo Gulch landfill.

Shigemura said the dust has never been a big problem before, but after some recent grading and the high winds, it has become an issue.

"We've always had a good rapport with our neighbors, but this last wind episode really upset a lot of people, so I'm trying to find a solution," Shigemura said.

PVT already uses two water trucks to keep the ground wet and stop the dust from flying and has bought another truck, which will arrive in about six weeks, Shigemura said.

They have also planted grass and plan to install a 16-foot-tall, 1,200-foot-long fabric fence behind all the homes bordering the landfill to keep dust out.

State Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said an inspector was sent to the area last week to investigate residents' complaints, but no citation was issued because the company is working on solutions to the problem.

Shigemura said the company has been expanding its nursery operation and building a home for a caretaker near Mohihi Street and that is why they have been grading the area. A temporary dust fence was erected around the construction site, he said, but was blown over in the strong wind.

"I'm putting up a dust screen running the length of the property so in the future we won't have the dust issue," he said. "We already planted the grass, but it hasn't taken root enough yet. Hopefully the expanded green belt will create a buffer for the neighbors, but unfortunately it all takes some time."

Shigemura said he has put the dust screen project out to bid and will pay thousands of dollars for the work, but he said it will be worth it if it takes care of the problem.

Alan Arakawa, vice president of development and construction for Castle & Cook Homes Hawai'i, said they routinely use dust screens while building, but they are not a building permit requirement. Arakawa said the screens have proven an effective way to contain dust.

Kauhaahaa said those control measures should have been taken earlier and do not address the immediate problem.

"It is going to take awhile for it to root, and in the meantime we will be suffering," Kauhaahaa said. "I clean up whatever I can, and it's all for nothing. My kitchen is covered with dirt. He said he is going to put up 16-foot screen in back of our home and irrigate the grass, but that takes away our view. It's like we want to sell our house already."

Kauhaahaa said she is also worried that the landfill takes in asbestos and the cancer-causing material could be blown through the air with the dust.

"I have heard they dump asbestos back there. If this dirt is going over, what else is going over?" Kauhaahaa said.

Shigemura said they do have a permit to accept asbestos from construction sites, but there is no asbestos in that dust.

"The asbestos is all wrapped and sealed when it comes to us," Shigemura said. "It is buried that day. We have done air monitoring and never found any indication of asbestos."