Idea would put landfills all over Oahu to share burden

Cal Chipchase; Cades Schutte Attorney, representing Ko Olina Resort
Cal Chipchase; Cades Schutte Attorney, representing Ko Olina Resort
Beadie Dawson; Sits on Planning Commission
Beadie Dawson; Sits on Planning Commission

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The fate of the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill has gone back and forth for years.  But instead of closing it down why not open seven others all over the island?  That's an idea at least one planning commission member expressed today.

Some want the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill closed.  Others want it left open.  Both sides will continue to wait.  Today the Planning Commission voted to wait six months kicking the decision over to the Land Use Commission for it to decide.  The Planning Commission also voted to send over all the testimony for the Land Use Commission to review.

"We spent five months before the Planning Commission, 15 witnesses, 260 exhibits and the Planning Commission agreed it is important for the Land Use Commission to consider that evidence when it makes its decision after receiving the remand from the Hawaii Supreme Court," said Cal Chipchase, Cades Schutte Attorney, representing Ko Olina Resort which wants the landfill closed.

"Among the witnesses we heard from community witnesses and expert witnesses have all explained that the city is not doing all that it can to divert waste from the landfill. The city is not moving as quickly as it needs to to development a new landfill and that the most objectionable waste in that landfill can be taken out of it, diverted to H-Power very soon and we look forward to showing the Land Use Commission that evidence," continued Chipchase.

In 2008, the state Land Use Commission required the landfill to stop accepting solid waste by July 31, 2012.

Earlier this month the state Supreme Court overturned that deadline saying it was "inconsistent with evidence in the record and not supported by substantial evidence."

The issue will come back to the Land Use Commission for review.  Chipchase plans to continue to push for the landfill to be closed to most waste by January 1, 2013 and to be closed to all waste by November 2, 2017.

The landfill will continue accepting garbage until another decision is made.

Beadie Dawson, who has had a seat on the Planning Commission five years, has seen the bickering and whining from many different people and communities regarding the landfill.  No one wants it in their backyard so she says what if they put one in everyone's backyard, as in seven or eight landfills around the island.  Just like there are sewage plants located all over, why not landfills too?

"The whole island is going to have to take responsibility. I believe every region needs to be responsible for its own opala. If you know something is going into your own backyard you're going to be a little more careful about recycling," said Beadie Dawson, Planning Commission Member.

It is an interesting idea but one that's more likely to get tossed out rather than picked up.

"I think the elected officials are afraid of what the constituents would say," said Dawson.  "The mayor is going to have to put the responsibility back on people. This business of having the 'not in my backyard' is ancient history. It has to be in our backyards."

A new landfill can take seven years before it's approved and built at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

Later this year the City of Honolulu is also looking forward to unveiling the third H-Power boiler in order to burn trash and turn it into energy. It is expected to decrease the amount of trash, however it will create more ash which will still need to go to a landfill.

"We are a small contained island. We either take care of ourselves or we're all going to sink under the burden," continued Dawson.  "The burden has been very clearly on the Leeward Coast. We're trucking stuff from one end of the island and dumping it on the Leeward Coast and that's been unfair to them for 25 years.  It's not so far out to say every district should have a landfill.  It might mean more equipment. It might mean more staff.  It might mean more taxes but we need it."

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