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Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Restrictions On Landfill Sites

Senior Master Sgt. Burke Baker
U.S. Air Force

HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers are considering a large amount of public comment on proposed legislation to keep landfills from intruding on residential areas.
The state Senate passed a bill that is now in the House concerning where to dispose of waste, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported  Sunday.

Individuals, government agencies, business organizations, and unions weighed in with more than 200 pages of written comments on the Senate bill, which was drafted to impose a buffer of a half-mile (0.8-kilometers) around waste disposal facilities.

The initial version of the bill could have forced the closure of every waste management facility in the state and produced a threat to public health, the state Department of Health said.

After two revisions, the bill appears to target a proposed expansion of the only landfill accepting commercial construction and demolition debris on Oahu, a privately owned PVT Land Co. facility.

PVT wants to expand its landfill onto an adjacent site and maintain a 750-foot (229-meter) buffer from the nearest homes in line with its existing operations permitted by the health department.

PVT showed through nine human health risk studies over the past 15 years that dust blowing from its operations does not pose a health concern, the company said.

The bill's current form would prohibit development of any new or expanded waste disposal facility that needs a permit review and modification if the facility lacks a half-mile buffer from a neighboring residential, school or hospital property line.

PVT said the bill is not necessary because there are already state and county regulations for landfill buffer zones.

Several West Oahu residents endorsed the bill with claims of negative health effects for people living close to landfills.

The bill's supporters include the Sierra Club of Hawaii, several Hawaiian civic clubs, the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs and nine organized labor organizations including the Hawaii State Teachers Association, United Public Workers, UNITE HERE Local 5, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

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