Gay & Robinson still wants to burn the island’s trash

Potential to turn rubbish into 60,000 barrels of oil

There are many reasons why Gay & Robinson, Inc., the island’s last sugar company, is still willing to offer land at Kaumakani for the purpose of a facility to burn the island’s rubbish.

Among them are diversification that will make it easier for the company to stay in sugar; willing employees and neighbors who would not oppose establishment of a garbage-to-energy facility there; and on-staff engineers, mechanics, laborers and other employees necessary to operate such an incineration plant, said E. Alan Kennett, G&R president.

“Gay & Robinson continues to show an interest in trying to help resolve the county’s continuing waste problem by working with the county to build a garbage-to-energy facility,” Kennett said.

“And given the issue with high oil prices, and us going to war, anything we can do to reduce the oil that is burned for energy” should be a good thing, he said.

“You’re recycling when you burn garbage, because a ton of garbage is a barrel of oil,” he said. “(With) the 60,000 tons of garbage that we would handle (each year), you can replace 60,000 barrels of oil. To me, that makes sense,” he said.

“We’ve let it be known that Gay & Robinson is willing to look at burning garbage, and offering its facility” to the county, he said.

“I think there are a number of people who are supportive of what we want to do,” he continued.

As far as the county is concerned, discussions are underway in the new administration of Mayor Bryan Baptiste about solid-waste matters, said Troy Tanigawa, solid waste coordinator with the county Department of Public Works.

“We will determine a direction soon,” Tanigawa said.

Representatives of Baptiste’s administration wished to offer no further comment when given the opportunity.

A request for proposals (RFP) was sent out during the administration of former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, asking private companies to submit plans for disposing of the county’s solid waste.

After public meetings on each of the plans, and the threat of a lawsuit from a company whose proposal wasn’t one of the five selected for further consideration, the RFP was canceled.

Representatives of the Kusaka administration promised another RFP would be issued, especially since the county’s only landfill, at Kekaha, was filling up fast. But, no RFP was issued.

And, county representatives continue to realize while trying to find a site for a new county landfill that finding a suitable location, willing landowner and supportive neighbors isn’t easy.

“As far as I know, we’re the only private landowner on the island who is willing to make its land available” for a garbage-to-energy facility, Kennett said.

“Our employees, and the people who work and live here, will support it, because it strengthens our ability to stay in business,” he said.

“I can understand a lot of people not wanting a garbage plant or a composting plant” in the their neighborhoods, but the fact remains that the county needs a long-term, solid-waste solution, he said.

Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at pcurtis@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 224).

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