Ma‘alo landfill site discussed at meeting

HANAMA‘ULU — A small but concerned and vocal crowd brought many questions about a proposed landfill to a Hanama‘ulu meeting on Tuesday.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. opened the meeting, saying the series of meetings around the island are opportunities to hear the information and to respond. The issue of locating a new landfill is sensitive, and he asked for continued patience and understanding throughout the process.

“We want a world class facility to address our needs,” said Carvalho.

He said the new dump must have the technologies that best fit the island to take care of waste and make a sustainable Kaua‘i.

The meeting, facilitated by Dee Dee Letts, president of Resolutions Hawai‘i, was to present the New Kaua‘i Landfill Environmental Impact. It is part of the public comment period for the Final Environmental Assessment and Impact Statement preparation notice.

“We are here to identify environmental and cultural issues that the public feels need to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement for the new municipal landfill and resource recovery park,” said Letts.

A second meeting was held in Kekaha on Wednesday. The remaining meetings are 6 p.m. May 29 at Kilauea Elementary School and 6 p.m. May 30 at Koloa Neighborhood Center.

These meetings will be followed by the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in May 2013. It will have a 45-day comment period and two public meetings before it is published in November 2013.

Presentations were offered on the current preferred dump site of Ma‘alo, situated on 270 acres of state-owned land. Grove Farm owns the adjacent land that would become the resource recovery park.

The presenters said they would look into questions including why the entire site is not on state land. Others expressed strong concerns about runoff into neighboring farm land, the water table and the Wailua River.

The site would have a 264-year life with phased upgrades, which doesn’t account for possible diversion that would extend its use, said presenter Frank Cioffi, a senior engineer with Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Management.

Cioffi said the site offered a permanent solution and is hidden from view by many angles by neighboring ridges. It is also the only site with landowner approval, he added.

The other sites being considered are Kekaha Mauka, Pu‘uo Papai in Hanapepe, Umi in Kalaheo, Koloa, Kipu, Kalepa, and Kumukumu north of Kapa‘a. The new site would replace the only existing landfill in Kekaha, which is approaching design capacity.

There have been other preferred site locations that have failed at some point in addressing criteria in the environmental impact statement. There is both a technical and an economical feasibility to consider for each site, Cioffi said.

There were more than an hour of comments and questions. Some felt the community input was a requirement for a process that was going to go ahead whether there was opposition or not. There was clarification that each phase calls for comments on specific items but does incorporate all responses.

Brian Takeda, a project coordinator at the engineering firm RM Towill, Inc., said public participation will help ensure a better project. He said after the Mayor’s report in 2010 they began to seek more feedback.

There was concern about subdividing the project and the placement of the road drew concern. Guests proposed more emphasis on surrounding natural resources.

A guest said a plastic-lined hole would create toxic fluids that will run off in heavy rains and wind. He said global warming will only increase precipitation on the wettest place on earth.

“That is not a smart place to put a landfill for those reasons,” said the guest, who wanted more answers with how to deal with big rains, toxic sludge in the water supply and who would be liable when something goes wrong.

One couple expressed satisfaction with the Kekaha facility. They were impressed with the materials that cover each layer to prevent smell and wanted to know about capturing methane for making energy.

There was concern about traffic going through narrow roads at all hours. Some proposed bypass roads for the trucks and others said there would be too much noise and activity for the quiet neighborhoods.

Some were concerned for their property values and the ability to sell their homes once a dump is built next door.

Others said there really isn’t much awareness in the community and said an effort should be made to explain the proposal to the elderly and people who don’t speak English as their first language.

Someone pointed out the lack of Hawaiian natives at the meeting when they had been so vocal about construction near historical relics and ancestral burials.

A guest asked that more flora and fauna studies are prepared for the assessment.

Find out more online at kauai.gov/newlandfillsite.

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