Landfill committee to seek unbiased recommendation for new dump - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Landfill committee to seek unbiased recommendation for new dump site

Tim Steinberger Tim Steinberger
Ikaika Anderson Ikaika Anderson
Bruce Anderson Bruce Anderson
Pohai Ryan Pohai Ryan

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The last time the city had a landfill selection committee it ended in controversy and no new site was built.  So will history repeat itself this time around?

So far the agreed upon opinion is that no one wants to live next to a landfill.

"I'm sure that regardless of what community the site is designated that community is not going to be happy about it. The same is if I may use an analogy, no one wants to have a prison in their backyard either but these are the necessities of life," said Tim Steinberger, City Environmental Services Director.

The city has started the process of finding a new landfill location.  A 12 member selection committee has been formed, yet even though the current landfill is between Kapolei and Nanakuli no one from their neighborhood boards is on the committee.

"Kapolei should have been afforded a member at least one," said Ikaika Anderson, Honolulu City Councilmember, Windward Oahu.

"If you start opening it up to the neighborhood boards then you open it up to all boards and then it just gets too large and too unmanageable," said Steinberger.

An alternative site has been mentioned for Bellows in Waimanalo. Yet there are people from Windward Oahu on the committee.  But bias isn't supposed to come into play as selection is to be based on various factors like weather, proximity to drinking water, nearby neighborhoods and the size and price of the property.

"There isn't the opportunity to say we don't want this site in our backyard. They're going to be looking at criteria, scoring the criteria and ultimately ranking the criteria of these sites," said Bruce Anderson, one of 12 Landfill Selection Committee members.

Anderson was on the last selection committee eight years ago.  He was also one of four members to resign out of controversy because Waimanalo Gulch ranked as the best option but members were told by politicians it wasn't an option.  The trash isn't supposed to go there after July 2012 when the permit expires.  So what's to stop the same problems from happening again?

"I can't promise anything," said Anderson. "I am cautiously optimistic we're going to see this process go through the course and not be derailed in the end."  

"I would like to keep as much of a firewall between political elected officials as possible," said Steinberger.  "From the very beginning everybody understands that this process is to be an unbiased process."

And while opinions aren't supposed to matter lawmakers are already letting theirs be known.

"I want to discourage any site on the windward side," testified State Senator Pohai Ryan, (D) Kailua, Waimanalo, before the council members.

Mayor Peter Carlisle says the committee members were selected because of their technical expertise and experience.  He also notes that all committee meetings will be open to the public for anyone wanting to keep track.

The landfill committee is supposed to have their final recommendation ready by July.

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