Oahu residents want start to dump site cleanup
Securing federal money is a giant step in the right direction, but concerned residents still want to know when the cleanup of a former military dump site at Bellows Beach actually will occur.
"It's a start," said Albert Lewis, a Waimanalo resident since 1954, of U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono's announcement yesterday that the House had approved $2.5 million in fiscal year 2008 for the Bellows cleanup project.
The catch is that the Senate has not yet approved money for the project, which could happen next month.
Hirono, D-Hawai'i, acknowledged the dump site poses a serious risk to public health because a natural disaster could breach the sand wall containing the trash and allow it to get into the ocean.
"Securing this federal funding will allow work to begin to excavate and remove trash buried here and restore the 'aina for the enjoyment of everyone," Hirono said in a news release.
For Suzanne Frazer, of Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii, when it will happen is the question.
"There's 8,500 tons of trash buried in this area ... chemicals and metals exceeding acceptable federal and state levels, and the landfill simply needs to be taken out," said Frazer, who bases her assessment on reports such as a June 1999 Air Force site inspection and a June 2004 evaluation also done by the Air Force.
"What we don't want to hear," Frazer said of a scenario should funding be approved, "is that they are going to spend more money for tests. I can't believe this has been left there for 60 years. They've spent $10 million on studies for something that costs $2.5 million to take out."
Lewis added: "When the military was allowed to use this area, it wasn't a dump. I believe it's only right that the land be returned to the community the way it was so we can now use it."
Correction: The U.S. House of Representatives has approved $2.5 million to clean up a former landfill at Bellows Beach in its Defense Appropriations bill. An incorrect amount appeared in a previous version of this story. Also, Suzanne Frazer said the U.S. Air Force conducted an evaluation report in June 2004, not June 2000, as stated in the story.