Fire burns waste company - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fire burns waste company

Gary Gill Gary Gill
Tim Steinberger Tim Steinberger
Carroll Cox Carroll Cox

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

KALAELOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Tons of trash smoldered underneath the damaged Hawaiian Waste Systems facility that failed to set sail on waste shipping.  The fire is the latest in a series of problems with company.

The relationship between the city and company includes a lawsuit, several missed deadlines, a failed permit process and now the fire.

"It has been an issue they have had a lot of issues from the conception of this project there was a lot of rushing on their side to get this thing moving," said Tim Steinberger, Honolulu Environmental Services Director.

For nearly a year and a half 20,000 tons of garbage has sat.  Hawaiian Waste started breaking up the bales to truck to the H-power plant to burn but there are still 10,000 tons left behind.  The deadline to dump it is February 15 but that will likely turn into another missed deadline.

"We're going to have to sit down with HWS and with the Department of Health and discuss the options of this facility, whether it's going to be allowed to continue to operate or not," said Steinberger.

City officials maintain they have not paid Hawaiian Waste Systems any money.  However they are not charging the company tipping fees which costs the city about a million dollars.

"It was an issue of what was the best way to take care of this without getting into a long legal battle," said Steinberger.

State health inspectors took a look at the facility but at this point did not see any violations.

"The operations they were pursuing with the city are pursuant to their permit so the department of health doesn't have any objection to the activities that were going on here," said Gary Gill, State Department of Health.

Neighboring businesses were used to the smells coming from Hawaiian Waste Systems but today they faced the smoke.  Some Coca Cola employees covered their faces with masks as they walked outside.

Low levels of hydrogen cyanide were found in the air which is toxic smoke.

Crews are trying to catch the contaminated water used to fight the fire before it runs off although some water did leak into neighboring properties.  The contaminated water from the fire fight is being collected and taken to a treatment plant in Waianae. Hawaiian Waste will have to pay for those expenses.

Some feel the city has been burned too many times and wants to cut ties with the company. 

"We need someone now, to put a kibosh to this thing," said Carroll Cox, EnviroWatch. "We can do better. This is trash, it's not alive, it doesn't think. We should be able to manage this. This is a simple process. But for some reason when you introduce politics and special favor you have problems."

Watch our video for the full story.

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