The city released a consultant's report on Monday that includes new rankings for the 11 sites identified as possible alternatives to the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill. Honolulu's mayor, however, hopes to avoid the need for a different landfill altogether.
The top three locations listed by the 2012 Mayor's Advisory Committee on Landfill Site Selection are now the bottom three sites due to different criteria, according to city officials. The new technical and logistical analysis by R.M. Towill Corporation showed that five sites (Upland Nanakuli 1, Ameron Quarry and Kapaa Quarry Road, Kaneohe by H-3, and Keaau) could be considered for a future landfill location based on their scores.
"There is no way, no way as mayor would I allow another landfill to be located on the west side. They carry enough burden as it is with Waimanalo Gulch," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Caldwell opposes opening a new landfill anywhere on Oahu.
"That is a great thing to hear actually because I wouldn't want to wish this on any other community as well," said state Sen. Maile Shimabukuro (D-Ko OIina, Nanakuli, Waianae).
Caldwell said Oahu generates about 1.2 million tons of trash each year, with only 71,000 tons of municipal solid waste ending up in the landfill. The bulk of what is sent there now is ash from the burning of garbage at H-POWER. The mayor wants to continue to divert trash from Waimanalo Gulch and find ways to re-use the ash, eventually eliminating the need for an everyday landfill.
"To shut down a landfill that we have today that has a lot of capacity, to locate it somewhere else on this island, start the process all over again to me seems like we're going in the wrong direction," said Caldwell.
The Waimanalo Gulch Landfill will have capacity until 2038, according to the current projection in the new report. Caldwell hopes the site will eventually be used for emergencies only.
"I think people will be disappointed to hear that it looks like it's going to be indefinitely in our community. However, if it is for emergencies only, that would be fantastic," said Shimabukuro.
Officials said the city needs to have a landfill since its permit requires a back-up system to be in place in case of an emergency or H-POWER maintenance.
The city must meet a quota of sending 800,000 tons of material each year to the company that operates H-POWER. The city ended up paying a total of nearly $1.3 million to Covanta in 2015 and 2016 for revenue lost from energy that wasn't created.