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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, September 6, 2003

Ala Wai dredging in last phase as new dump site is prepared

Advertiser Staff

The final stage of the Ala Wai Canal dredging project began yesterday after work was completed on a dump site for the polluted sediment at the Honolulu International Airport reef runway.

Paddler Barry Kamano watched dredging of the Ala Wai canal begin in August 2002 near the McCully bridge.

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The dredging is expected to be done by the end of the month, wrapping up a $7.4 million project begun Aug. 22, 2002, to remove two decades of sediment and debris that left the canal only inches deep in areas.

Work on the last section of the canal, at the Kapahulu end, was delayed because sediment there contained pesticides and heavy metals from vehicle emissions and runoff.

Dredging of the canal was 96 percent complete when work stopped in June, and contractor American Marine had to wait for a state Department of Health permit to continue.

About 184,000 cubic yards of sediment has been removed and taken to an ocean dumping site near the airport.

Since Aug. 5, workers have been preparing a new dumping site, a cement-lined pit near the airport, for waste from the final section. The dredged material will be mixed with a cement binder, poured into the pit and later used as structural fill.

Some Kalihi residents wanted an alternative site to dump the polluted material, and suggested bioremediation, in which plants and bacteria are used to break down pollutants.

But the Department of Health deemed the cement-lined pit sufficiently safe.