Landfill Scale Gets Fixed, But Still Faces a Mountain of Criticism

Rodney Smith
Rodney Smith

KAPOLEI (KHNL) - The truck scale at Waimanalo Gulch Landfill on Oahu is now fixed. Some city leaders feared the mis-calibrated scale was cheating taxpayers by under weighing trucks, meaning fees were lower than they should be.

Landfill officials said debris and corrosion were the source of the problem and that's caused a change in policy.

More than a hundred trucks get weighed on this scale every day. Two weeks ago, operators at the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill discovered it wasn't reading properly. So, they called their regular vendor Young Scale to fix it.

"There was a structural corrosion issue on one structural part that they were not able to help us with," said Paul Burns, vice-president and general manager of Waste Management, the company contracted to oversee the landfill. "So we called Toledo scales. They came out. They were able to help us. And they replaced that part last Saturday evening."

Crews spent Monday night cleaning the scale. It's now working, they say.

Operators at H-Power, which uses the landfill, said they're not concerned one way or the other because they have scales of their own.

"We do our own scaling in and out of anything that comes in and everything that goes out," said Rodney Smith, facility business manager at Honolulu Resource Recovery Venture.

He said having accurate scales is very important.

"We have the scales checked out and recertified every six months," said Smith.

The landfill truck scale was only being checked annually, but now there's a change in policy.

"We've actually decided to move it up to a quarterly frequency just because of the age of the scales," said Burns.

The 18-year-old scale is near the end of its life cycle. The landfill may replace it at a cost of up to a $150,000.

The scale was last certified 10 months ago. The company that checks the scales was back at the landfill Tuesday afternoon to re-calibrate and re-certify it. It is now working properly, and certified for another year.

Although the scale has been fixed, one lawmaker said it comes as too little, too late.

Councilmember Charles Djou (District IV - Hawaii Kai to Waikiki) said the landfill has had a mountain of problems, and it's time for a change.

"I think we have got to look at firing the operator over there: Waste Management, said Djou. "And I think it's about time the city managers that are responsible for overseeing this get reexamined as to whether or not they need to be reassigned to other duties."

Djou said the scale incident is the latest in a series of problems at the landfill, ranging from allegations of bribery, fines for clean act violations, and a fire at the landfill.

Waste Management, which runs the landfill, declined to comment. Its general manager Paul Burns will make a statement Wednesday morning at a council committee meeting.