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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Governor calls landfill a 'difficult situation'

By Bruce Dunford
Associated Press

The state may give the city permission to continue dumping at the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, but the final solution "is not to continue to allow the city to continue to dump there," Gov. Ben Cayetano said yesterday.

Gov. Ben Cayetano said the Waimanalo Gulch landfill situation is "very difficult."

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The state Department of Health is considering the city's request for a permit to raise the height of the landfill by 30 feet, buying the city eight more months of capacity. Otherwise, the landfill is expected to reach capacity in two months.

"It's a very difficult situation," Cayetano said. "In fairness to the people who live out in Wai'anae, Kapolei, Nanakuli and Ma'ili area, that landfill is really something that you can smell, virtually, when the wind is blowing in your direction."

The governor wouldn't say how much time the Health Department should give the city to find an alternative, but acknowledged that expansion of the city's H-Power garbage-to-energy plant would be expensive.

"You can't just continue to dump there," he said. "It's not good for the community, it's not good for the second city that we are trying to get going there and it's not fair to the people out in that area."

Mayor Jeremy Harris has announced that the landfill issue will be taken up during a November conference of government and private technical experts who will "discuss elements of a cohesive program to make Honolulu a more sustainable city."

Among the methods being studied are plasma arc, an electrical energy process that reduces waste to little more than gases; anaerobic digestion, which decomposes organic material without using oxygen to create methane gas for various fuels; and Hydromex, a company that recycles trash, would recycle treated lumber and car parts and mix them with polymers to create a woodlike product that could be used for building materials.

Residents have accused city officials of dragging their feet until it was too late to do anything but expand the landfill.

Councilman John DeSoto, who represents the area, said the city administration knew long ago it had to close the landfill by 2002, but put it off and instead is seeking an extension.

Correction: Hydromex, a company that recycles trash, was misspelled in a previous version of this story.