Residents call wind-blown litter around Central Maui Landfill ‘upsetting’

Those who frequent the Central Maui landfill on Pulehu Road in Puunene say the trash surrounding the area is getting worse.
Those who frequent the Central Maui landfill on Pulehu Road in Puunene say the trash surrounding the area is getting worse.
Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 6:59 PM HST
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PUUNENE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui county officials are struggling to control wind-whipped trash near a landfill.

The county is promising improvements to the Central Maui landfill on Pulehu Road in Puunene.

But it’s not quick enough for some residents who say the litter is getting worse and it’s damaging to the environment.

“It’s very discouraging, it’s very upsetting,” said Maui resident Robert Street.

Street captured video of trash swirling around the Central Maui landfill last week. The video shows it ending up on Pulehu Road.

Eric Nakagawa, the county’s Department of Environmental Management Director, said the landfill is located in a very windy region of the island where trade winds are funneled through the valley between Haleakala and the West Maui Mountains.

“Whenever haulers dump rubbish during breezy conditions, loose plastic bags get swept into the wind to fly out of the landfill onto neighboring Pulehu Road,” said Nakagawa.

Nakagawa said the county contracts vendors to clean up as needed.

Mike comes to the landfill at least twice a week. He says he sees clean-up crews often.

“I see guys out there raking down that hill all the time,” he said. “My hat goes off to them that’s for sure. Does not look fun. But they’re doing a great job as far as managing what they can and hopefully in the future they’ll come up with a different idea.”

The clean-up crew in the area on Monday say they come Monday through Friday.

Street, a life-long Maui resident says it wasn’t always this way and the problem is getting worse.

“If you look at the videos, it doesn’t show that people are out there every day,” Street said. “Get your act together. Enough is enough.”

Nakagawa said July is historically one of Maui’s windiest months and cleanup will continue until it’s completed.

He said the county is increasing the height of the thirty-foot trash fence while they expand the landfill which should be completed by the end of the year. Nakagawa said the litter situation should improve immensely after that.

Nakagawa says in the meantime, residents can help by properly bagging and securing their rubbish, so the bags don’t fly away.

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