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The Latest: Ige Delays State Furloughs; Ash Recycling Facility To Be Built On O?ahu

Courtesy / State of Hawaii, Governor's Office

Governor David Ige announced Wednesday afternoon that there will be a delay in state furloughs, that were set to begin on January 1, 2021.In a letter sent to state employees, Ige said the state had been waiting to see if Congress would pass additional federal support to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts. 

On Monday night, Congress passed a $900 billion relief package and is awaiting approval from President Donald Trump. While the package doesn't directly support state and local governments, it does provide mitigation measures that the state would have had to pay for -- such as vaccine distribution, testing, and education.

According to state officials, Ige decided to delay the implementation of the furloughs based on the promise of federal aid. However, he noted that there is still uncertainty, and there is no timeline of when the furloughs will begin.

"I know the uncertainty makes things difficult for you and your families," Ige wrote. "We are continuing to monitor the latest information and will provide an update as soon as we can."

Honolulu to build ash recycling facility

The City and County of Honolulu is aiming to redirect ash from H-Power from the landfill to construction sites with a new processing facility.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced Wednesday afternoon the City has awarded an 11 year, $57.8 million contract to Covanta Projects LLC -- which also built and operates H-Power. Under the agreement, Covanta will design, build, operate and maintain a facility that will process ash from H-Power to be reused.

The city has an option to extend the contract for an additional five years.

According to the city, H-Power burns nearly 90% of the municipal solid waste received, creating 10% of O?ahu's electricity needs. From that solid waste, the facility produces approximately 180,000 tons of ash -- which goes to the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill.

Caldwell says this will help to divert more of that waste from the landfill. 

"If we could eliminate the ash, which was about six to eight percent, we'd reduce what goes into landfills just to four percent," Caldwell said. 

According to the city, after the ash is processed and treated, the inert material could be used as construction material. Officials say this will be the first ash recycling facility in the country.

-- HPR's Casey Harlow

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 107 new cases, and 3 fatalities on Wednesday.

According to the state's numbers, O?ahu had 68 new cases, Maui 14, Hawai?i County 13, Kaua?i, Lanai and Moloka?i had none.

The latest state counts bring the O?ahu total to 17,277, Hawai?i County 1,835, Maui 806, Kaua?i 138, Lanai 106, and Moloka?i 22. The number of out-of-state cases total 338.

Since the pandemic began, the state has tallied 20,522 cases. The death toll stands at 285.

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