Oahu trash will wait another month to be shipped to mainland - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Oahu trash will wait another month to be shipped to mainland

Jim Hodge Jim Hodge
Kirk Caldwell Kirk Caldwell

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now) - Late February to early March, that is the new deadline for shipping thousands of tons of Hawaii's trash to the mainland. But that also means the stacks of bales of rubbish will sit in Campbell Industrial Park more than month before the trash sets sail.

Hawaiian Waste Systems executives came in from Washington and met with representatives from the city and state today. Everyone is still willing to work with each other despite the delays.

The trash shipping saga began last year. The city decided to drop Hawaiian Waste Systems in the 11th hour for being non-responsive. There was a hearing. The company said it was all ready to go and both sides settled.

In October the city started bringing in 300 tons of rubbish a day to be wrapped and baled. Now 17,000 tons are sitting, waiting, wasting away.

"We're sorry. This would have been very simple if it all started in November when we assumed it would," said Jim Hodge, Hawaiian Waste Systems.

The company switched its shipping route last June and with it had to modify its permit. 

"Lots of times you get caught in these bureaucratic slip streams and it's difficult," said Hodge. "Our argument with USDA is that they have looked at this, I think this is the sixth environmental assessment on this project and they have certainly looked at all the alternatives, but they wanted to look at this one again and have and that's what's been causing the delay."

But this week it finally heard from the federal government and everything is back on course, that is after the 30 day comment period. That means the very earliest the garbage goes to Washington is the end of February or possibly early March.

"The big unknown though is what happens if they get adverse or negative comments that could lead us down a road of a more rigorous evaluation," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Managing Director.

"If it doesn't happen by March, this is a growing problem of ours and we'll have to deal with it," said Hodge.

The Department of Health has issued two warnings but no health or safety violations.

A city employee also inspects the facility every day.

"We're taking it day by day, we're waiting and watching, we're vigilant, we're going to make sure public health and safety is protected we'll continue to cooperate where need be, but we're also going to make certain the terms of our contract are honored at some point," said Caldwell.

"I think the city is a little disappointed and it also proves the city correct because initially one of the requirements all permits be obtained and demonstrated to the city and we felt there weren't all those permits, he insisted they were and we got into a dispute that we settled, but I think it goes to show at the end of the day not all those permits were in place and the city was probably correct in its initial position."

There weren't any major objections in the previous comment periods and Hawaiian Waste doesn't expect any this time either.

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