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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 10, 2001

Waimanalo landfill options ruled out

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

For the second time in less than a year, the city has filed a revised draft supplemental environmental impact statement with the state for its proposed expansion of the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill. The 373-page document attempts to address public opposition to expanding the landfill.

The 60.5-acre expansion to the landfill in Kahe Valley would provide space for O'ahu's rubbish though 2017, according to the city. The landfill is operated by Waste Management of Hawai'i Inc. and uses 86.5 acres at the 200-acre site. It is expected to reach its capacity sometime next year.

Opponents said the city's report released last fall did not include any meaningful discussion of alternative technologies or different locations. Residents said that with the landfill expected to reach capacity in 2002, the city does not have enough time to meaningfully search for another site and the expansion was a "done deal."

The city then decided to create a more complete document and held a series of public meetings to listen to public concerns. On Friday, the city released its latest document, including answers to residents' concerns. The document is available on the Web site www.opala.org.

Brian Takeda, a consultant for the project with R.M. Towill Corp., said the city has looked into alternative sites, 42 of which are listed in the new draft for the impact statement, as well as alternative technologies, an analysis of which is also available on the Web site.

Public Comment
 •  The public has until July 23 to comment on the revised draft supplemental environmental impact statement for the proposed expansion of the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill.
 •  Send comments to City and County of Honolulu, Department of Environmental Services, 650 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813. There should be two extra copies of the comments, which will be forwarded for the consultant and the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.
"The city has extensively looked at using new technology whenever it is possible," Takeda said.

Although alternatives exist for the reduction of solid waste, such as recycling or turning waste into useful products, such alternatives cannot completely eliminate the use of a landfill, Takeda said.

The landfill receives about 1,400 tons of solid waste every day — 800 tons of municipal solid waste and 600 tons of ash residue from the H-Power facility.

Of the 42 alternative sites listed, only two — Makaiwa Gulch and Ma'ili Valley — were considered real alternatives, according to the impact statement. Makaiwa, next to Kahe Valley, is already designated for housing. Placing the landfill in Ma'ili would force dump trucks to travel along heavily used Farrington Highway.

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa said she is not surprised that the city's plan to expand the landfill is the only viable option in the draft environmental report.

"I think it was a done deal all along. We could still challenge the EIS in the courts, just like the people challenging (the Army's use of) Makua Valley," said Hanabusa D-21st (Barbers Point, Makaha). "It is going to come down to those specific issues as to whether they have really looked at alternative sites and technology."

Takeda said there are few places on O'ahu available for this type of facility.

A number of permits are needed before the expansion can be approved, Takeda said, but city planners will make the ultimate decision on the expansion.

"The strategy has always been to share the information with the people so they know how we arrived at a decision," Takeda said. "But there are some people that no matter what you do will never be satisfied."