So Much Opala, No Place To Put It

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 12, 2007
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Even to the casual observer, it should be obvious that Hawaii has a couple of big challenges in the immediate future: Traffic, homelessness, schools and road and sewer infrastructure.

But nothing is so daunting as the problem of a landfill that will be overflowing within a year - and there is no solution on the horizon.

In an act of bold political courage, Mayor Mufi Hannemann went to the Waianae Coast in an attempt to convince those in attendance that there is nowhere on Oahu to build a new landfill and the only immediate solution is to extend the life of the current landfill in the mountains gulches overlooking Ko Olina Resort.

I wasn’t there, but from all reports there weren’t too many people listening to the mayor’s logic. They had come to protest, not to understand. That didn’t stop the mayor from attempting to offer the Waianae community “incentives” for going along with his administration’s plan. A million here, a million there to upgrade the Leeward Coast as a way of paying them for their kokua and understanding. It didn’t work.

The problems to overcome are truly monumental beginning with the fact that no application has been filed with the Department of Health for extending the current landfill or constructing another one.

There is the problem of contaminating the aquifers on the island. There is just not that many pieces of land that don’t sit near or on a significant aquifer.

I don’t know how many people have observed how much traffic there is going in and out of the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill. It’s busy, and obvious that the City & County of Honolulu makes a lot of money from the collection of current “tipping fees.”

The people who run the Ko Olina Resort have done their homework and for many years have employed just about every important politician on the Leeward Coast. That means getting anything by the City Council or Legislature is a dream. It’s not going to happen. Can you imagine the political fallout of a mayor putting a landfill in the district of the Senate President?

Hopefully, for the sake of the residents of Oahu, the new location of our next landfill will be a happy place where garbage can gather in harmony and not pit one group against another. Somewhere the garbage can rest in peace. The probable truth is, the landfills of the future will be technological marvels run by non-union robots that don’t need to be bribed, work 24-hour shifts and don’t need to be a member of one political party or another.

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