Council asks county administration to update landfill plan

The Kaua’i County Council yesterday took action to upgrade a 1994 county integrated solid waste management plan to help extend the life of the Kekaha landfill and to dispose of trash more cost effectively.

During a meeting of the council held at the historic County Building, the council, by a 7-0 vote, approved a resolution asking Mayor Bryan Baptiste and his administration to update the plan.

The resolution asked the administration to study ways to reduce the flow of garbage to the island’s only landfill through recycling, composting and waste-to-energy applications.

The administration also was asked to provide a report and to help establish advisory committees.

The council viewed the resolution as an important tool with which to help resolve a problem that goes back ten years and, if not mitigated significantly, could needlessly eat up more county funds in the future.

In supporting the resolution, councilman Joe Munechika stressed major problems could confront the county if solutions are not found.

Council vice chair Jimmy Tokioka said he worked on previous councils that pushed for waste-to-energy projects and said the resolution will prod the council to look at that technology and other technologies that will support better management of the island’s garbage.

Gary Heu, administrative assistant to Baptiste, said the administration supported the resolution.

Among other matters raised, the resolution noted:

  • Baptiste reported the landfill can be operational until 2007.
  • A study noted the implementation process for a new landfill could take 5 1/2 years.
  • Kaua’i County needs to find an alternative to “landfilling its solid waste.”
  • Waste-to-energy faculties use proven technologies.

Residents attending the meeting offered recommendations they said the county should consider to alleviate trash problems.

Kapa’a resident Glenn Mickens said there was no need for a dramatic upgrading of the existing county trash plan.

Aside from new garbage disposal technology now available, the county should follow the basic guidelines of the plan, Mickens said.

“Nine years ago, John Harder (a one-time county waste disposal specialist), gave you a blueprint that no one was willing to follow, and now as Jay (Furfaro points out), time is running out at our landfill and action is quickly needed.”

Nawiliwili resident Cheryl Lovell Obatake said people in Kekaha are concerned that years of dumping garbage at the Kekaha landfill may have polluted marine ecosystems by the facility.

Heu and Troy Tanigawa, who heads the county’s solid waste division, said the administration is already mounting efforts to deal with the island trash.

They include ongoing efforts to find a site for the next landfill, upgrading the exiting county trash management plan and securing health department approval for the vertical expansion of the existing landfill.

To queries by councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura, Tanigawa said the administration was looking at enhancing diversion projects, including increasing public awareness of the need for diverting garbage.

Tanigawa said the county received permission from the state Department of Health for a vertical expansion of the landfill in the past and that the county is pursuing yet another vertical expansion.

Tanigawa said need for the continued use of the landfill exists and that he didn’t see any reason why the DOH would object to another vertical expansion of the landfill.

Staff writer Lester Chang can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) and mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net

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