SOURCES SAY MAYOR TO ANNOUNCE “NEW” KEKAHA LANDFILL SITING BY APRIL 15
(PNN)-- Mayor Bernard Carvalho has told multiple reliable sources that will be announcing the new landfill site on or before April 15 and, according to many, that site is likely to be the one across the highway from the current landfill in Kekaha.
According to reports the previously selected “Umi” site in Kalaheo was “mis-scored” when the fact that it is currently in long term agricultural use by Kaua`i Coffee was not considered and Carvalho has told many community members that he will have an announcement of the new scoring results by April 15.
“Discussions continue in regards to the next steps on the landfill siting. The Mayor is hoping to issue a statement on this matter later this month” according to county spokesperson Mary Daubert who would not confirm the date or the selection of Kekaha..
“Kekaha Mauka” was announced as the site ranked second by a task force earlier this year and a source close to the current process who asked not to be identified told us that it is likely to be the one “selected” on the 15th.
But anyone who thinks that the Kekaha community will be up in arms over environmental justice concerns had better think again.
“I don’t really have any objections” community leader Bruce Pleas told PNN “ as long as the ‘host community benefit (HCB)’ is sufficient and the community buys in”.
Although he thinks that there could be some new more innovative ways to deal with the current and new site he doesn’t think most of the people of Kekaha will object since they have already bought into the concept of being paid by the county for hosting the current landfill.
But that presumes problems with the current HCB can be resolved.
Under a current program the county has set up a HCB Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) which is deciding what to do with $650,000 plus another $80,000 in yearly monies designed to compensate the town for the last 57 years of hosting, the first the “dump” and later, the “sanitary landfill”.
The problem is that the money is still under county control according to a source close to the advisory group who asked not to be identified because it is “too controversial a topic and it will take skill and time to assess the broad range of perspectives, attitudes, and feelings emanating from the community of Kekaha”.
The original amount of $650,000.00 which the County Council approved has not yet been "received" by the community, our source told us.
“That amount is in the Solid Waste department of the County of Kauai. The additional amount of $80,000.00 is also with the Solid Waste department. Presumably, an amount will be allocated annually to the community when the landfill is sited, until such time when the County of Kauai decides that no Host Community Benefit Fund will be awarded.”
How the money will be distributed and how the final decision on how to use it will be made remains problematic, with the HCB CAC wanting to make sure that the community gets to make the final decision and the administration wanting to retain final say over how the money is spent.
“As matters now stand... (a)t the last (CAC) meeting, it was decided that some recommendations would be made in writing to the Mayor for the Mayor's consideration as to whether the recommendations should be implemented. At that meeting, also, a formal request was submitted by the community organization to have the HCB Fund allocation awarded directly to the organization to hold in behalf of the community with the understanding that the HCB Fund CANNOT be expended by the community organization without the approval of the community in determining as to how that fund should be expended.” our source said in an email.
If that issue can be resolved the question remains as to whether the community will buy into hosting the new landfill without some guarantees over how much more money they will receive, how the money will be distributed and their ability to determine how the money will be spent.
For his part Pleas wonders whether there isn’t another more innovative way to use the existing footprint.
Places on the mainland have been “mining” their old dumps that contain mostly metals, glass and other recyclable items after all the organic waste has decomposed, he said.
If that were done to the 36 acre closed “phase 1”- using the in-use “cells B and C” for the “mined” non-recyclable materials- we’d have not just have a huge area for a “new” landfill site but could have all of our prior solid waste placed over currently required “liners” to insure against leakage into the water table and ocean, Pleas said.
But that would require implementation of a “zero waste” program which the county council recently nixed in approving a coordinated solid waste approach contained in the latest iteration of the county-funded R.W Beck study.
Also dealing with all the toxic materials- which any long time Kekaha resident will attest were dumped there over the years, especially by the nearby navy base- could make such a project problematic.
The county has grappled with siting a new landfill since at least 1988 when then-mayoral-candidate JoAnn Yukimura called the lack of landfill space a “crisis” that needed immediate attention.
Another long weekend a’comn’. Be back Monday.