Environmental groups raise alarms as illegal dumping in West Maui continues to grow

Environmentalists are raising alarms about illegal dumping in West Maui.
Published: Jun. 23, 2023 at 5:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Environmentalists are raising alarms about illegal dumping in West Maui.

Despite recent crackdowns by the county, they said that illegal junkyards at Ukumehame and Cut Mountain have gotten larger in recent months.

“I was frankly horrified by the magnitude and extent of of the problem,” said Kai Nishiki, vice president of the West Maui Preservation Association.

“Really heartbreaking ... knowing the damage of leaking oil and fuels and then all of the trash that is piled up.”

Maui County officials hauled away at least 50 derelict vehicles from Cut Mountain two weeks ago and dozens more from Ukumehame in 2018 but the problems continue to persist.

“I would say it would be the largest that I’ve seen ever in the state of Hawaii,” environmental activist Carroll Cox said of the West Maui dump sites.

He said the dump sites rival the largest illegal junkyards on Oahu and are threats to nearby cultural sites and to the drinking water.

“It’s an open dump and and imagine the damage that could be done to the groundwater,” said Cox.

County officials said they plan to team up with the state in the coming weeks for another major cleanup effort.

They said they don’t know who is dumping all the old cars and trash in West Maui.

Environmentalists said they suspect that many of the cars were stolen — and chopped up for parts.

They said a large homeless population has also contributed to the problem.

“Oh my God, what a nightmare scene ... It’s kind of a Mad Max world,” said state Rep. Elle Cochran. “It’s disgusting.”

Cochran said the state and county can address the homeless problem by building temporary housing there like the state’s Kauhale program.

She added the cutting back the vegetation will also make it harder for polluters to dump their trash.

“Chop all those trees down then you got nowhere to hide,” she said.