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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 2, 2006

Landfill decision was painful, but correct

Mayor Mufi Hannemann made a painful but correct call in announcing that his administration would keep the Waimanalo landfill open for up to 15 more years.

Of course, that does not mean the city should not aggressively work toward a better solution to our solid-waste woes. It would be unfair and an insult to Leeward Coast residents and an abdication of responsibility to think the problem has been "solved" for another decade and a half.

Hannemann's decision simply accepts reality. The Waimanalo landfill, if managed properly, has up to 15 more years of capacity. It is owned by the city and is already in operation. And a non-partisan scientific analysis earlier concluded that based on capacity, cost and efficiency, the Waimanalo site is the most sensible of several alternatives.

None of this will make it any more palatable to Leeward residents, who have put up with the landfill for years and were promised years ago that it would be closed on schedule. The City Council, too, just passed a resolution ordering that the landfill be closed by mid-2008.

Hannemann says he will veto that resolution; he has no choice. There is no other site on the horizon.

The 15-year extension if it goes through must be treated as an outside limit, not a minimum. There must be a sense of urgency toward finding a long-term solution to our solid-waste problems.

Meanwhile, the mayor's plan for a "community benefits" package must be worked out. He suggested about $2 million in benefits to the surrounding community.

Is that enough?

A clearheaded analysis must take place, and the communities surrounding the landfill must receive benefits fully commensurate with the costs they are being forced to absorb.