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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, May 11, 2003

Last phase of Ala Wai dredging on hold

By James Gonser
Advertiser Urban Honolulu Writer

A public meeting to discuss the final and most controversial phase of the dredging of Ala Wai Canal has been tentatively set for 7 p.m. May 19 at Moanalua Elementary School.

The final portion of the project, a 400-foot-long section near Kapahulu Avenue, is expected to remove an estimated 1,825 cubic yards of sediment that officials say likely will contain pollutants including chlordane.

Chlordane was Hawai'i's termite ground treatment of choice until it was banned for commercial use in 1988.

The dredged material will be taken to a disposal site at the airport's reef runway for treatment. There, under a plan approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the dredged material will be dumped into a lined pit, dried and then mixed with a cement binder. It would then serve as structural fill at the airport.

The contractor, American Marine Corp., is still waiting for a solid-waste management permit from the state Department of Health before work can begin on the last phase.

Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, said detailed plans for the dredging, transporting and placing of sediment at the reef runway will be discussed at the meeting. A representative from American Marine will be at the meeting to answer questions, Ward said.

But if the permit is not received in time, the meeting could be canceled.

State Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland, D-13th (Kalihi, Nu'uanu), said several legislators are trying to convince the Health Department to make sure none of the materials is hazardous.

The lawmakers also will ask Gov. Linda Lingle to postpone dredging until the testing is completed.

Work began Aug. 22, 2002, on dredging the 2-mile canal to a depth of 6 to 12 feet. American Marine Corp. won the $7.4 million contract to remove two decades of sediment and debris that have left the canal only inches deep in sections.

As of last month, 705 dump scows had carried 190,690 cubic yards of sediment to a federally approved ocean dumping site 3.8 miles off the airport, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The project is on schedule, with two of four phases completed and the third nearly done, and work on the final phase expected to begin this month, pending the state permit.