The landfill was scheduled to close Nov.,. 1, but the extension of its special use permit to July 31, 2012, gives the city enough time to get a third boiler up and running to accept more trash at the city’s waste-to-energy HPOWER plant.
Commissioners voted 5-3 to approve the extension. The City Council and city administration also are required to hold regular public hearings to inform the community about the progress of having the site close on deadline and any preparation for a new landfill site.
“Officials can face the public and tell them face-to-face: ‘This is what we’re going to do,’” said LUC Vice Chairman Reuben Wong.
The city says the landfill is needed for at least another 15 years while alternative methods are developed for dealing with solid waste. Community residents say the city should stick to promises made in the past to close the landfill.
Both sides presented arguments to the state Land Use Commission during an all-day hearing at the Waikiki Sheraton.
“A landfill is necessary in order to properly manage solid waste,” said Gary Takeuchi, the city’s deputy corporation counsel. “It doesn’t mean (the city) has been relying solely on that disposal method.”
Takeuchi argued that even when alternative methods such as waste-to-energy conversion and shipping are utilized, a landfill will still be needed in some form, to handle residue from those processes and on an emergency basis.
Officials say the third burner at HPOWER is expected to be up and running by late 2011 or early 2012. After July 31, 2012, only ash and residue from HPOWER would be allowed at Waimanalo Gulch.
State Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, representing the Ko Olina Community Association, opposed the continued use of the landfill, at one point urging the Land Use Commission to stand by its ruling from May 2008 that requires the landfill to close on Nov. 1.
“At some point, these words have got to mean something,” she said.
The city Planning Commission has ruled that the special use permit to expand and extend the landfill should be granted for an indefinite amount of time, with conditions requiring the city to start looking for a new landfill site within a year.
The Land Use Commission was not bound by that ruling. Last year — when facing a May 1, 2008, deadline to close the landfill — the Planning Commission recommended a two-year extension, which was trimmed to 18 months by the state agency
Sources: NGV Global News & WIH Resource Group
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