Mayor calls landfill settlement a win for the city

Mayor calls landfill settlement a win for the city

The old Kapaa Landfill in Kailua took in solid waste from 1969 until it closed in 1997. But garbage under ground continues to decompose and emit methane and other gases. Many air pollutants in landfill gases are suspected carcinogens.

"You need that gas control system, gas capture system, to make sure those things are not escaping into the atmosphere," said Dean Higuchi of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The city was ordered to have a gas capture system operating at the site by 2002 but it didn't have one in until 2013. Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the delay was on prior administrations and he made it a priority to comply with the federal order. The EPA Tuesday announced the city will have to pay a $17 million settlement.

"This is the type of fine that comes back and really pays dividends," Caldwell said.

The consent decree allows the city to pay $16 million of the penalty toward a photovoltaic system at the HPOWER facility in Campbell Industrial Park.

"I look at it as a win-win," Caldwell said. "We are becoming more sustainable. With this money we are becoming greener."

"The settlement looks at the entire Oahu county, which is the City and County of Honolulu," Higuchi said. "This will benefit everyone, including the folks in Kailua."

Caldwell said within seven years, the savings on electricity costs at HPOWER will pay for the $16 million PV system. Meanwhile, gases at the now defunct Kapaa Landfill are being captured and controlled.

"We are in full compliance now. We have to do consistent monitoring and we have to submit that data to the regulators," Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said.

The city must also pay the federal government $875,000 in fines and penalties.

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