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No Surprise: Waipiʻo Peninsula eliminated from consideration as potential future landfill site
By News Release @ 11:52 PM :: 803 Views :: Honolulu County

Waipiʻo Peninsula eliminated from consideration as potential future landfill site

News Release from City and County of Honolulu, April 16, 2024

HONOLULU – After an extensive nine-month effort by the U.S. Navy to evaluate the feasibility of a proposed landfill site on Waipiʻo Peninsula, Navy officials in Hawaiʻi notified Mayor Rick Blangiardi last week that the military is “unable to support the development of a landfill on this property,” eliminating it from the City’s consideration.

The decision, via letter dated April 12, 2024 and signed by Admiral John C. Aquilino, commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, was based on concerns regarding the site’s proximity to near-shore waters and “the Navy’s mission critical operations and training activities in the vicinity of the Waipio peninsula.”

In 2019, the state Land Use Commission (LUC) issued a decision and order that required the City to identify an alternative landfill site to Waimanalo Gulch, the site of the current landfill, no later than December 31, 2022. The City conducted a formal landfill site selection analysis between 2021 and 2022 — in addition to a previous analysis that had been completed in 2012 — through a mayor-appointed Landfill Advisory Committee.

The LUC’s 2019 decision and order, however, predated the Hawai’i State Legislature’s 2020 passing of Act 73, which prohibited the construction, modification or expansion of waste disposal facilities without first establishing a buffer zone of no less than one-half mile between the edge of the facility and the nearest residential, school or hospital property line. Act 73 also prohibited waste or disposal facilities in conservation districts, except under emergency circumstances.

Between 2021 and 2022, the Landfill Advisory Committee held a total of eight meetings, evaluating and scoring six proposed landfill sites. At the December 14, 2021 meeting, the Board of Water Supply (BWS) raised concerns regarding the siting of a landfill within its No Pass Zone, noting that all six potential sites under consideration were situated above drinking water aquifers. 

Roughly two months later, at the Landfill Advisory Committee’s February 7, 2022 meeting, committee members noted that placing a landfill within the BWS No Pass Zone would be a concern.

In their final report, dated June 2022, the Landfill Advisory Committee ranked the six potential sites but chose not to recommend any of them for use as the City’s next landfill site, citing their location within the BWS No Pass Zone.

In November 2022, the City requested a formal response on the issue from BWS, which responded by saying that it did not approve any of the six proposed sites because they were located in the No Pass Zone.

Given the limitations of Act 73 and the Board of Water Supply’s position on siting landfills in the No Pass Zone, the City filed an application with the Department of Planning and Permitting in December 2022 to modify the December 31, 2022 deadline to identify an alternative landfill site. In its application, the City noted that when Act 73 and the BWS No Pass Zone are applied as restrictions, there are no potential landfill sites available on Oʻahu except on federal lands.

After filing the application to modify the deadline, the City began high-level conversations with the military about federal properties that could potentially be used to site a new landfill. These federal properties were located outside of the limitations of Act 73 and outside the No Pass Zone — with the Waipiʻo Peninsula identified as one such property.

In conducting due diligence on federal properties, Mayor Blangiardi and Managing Director Michael Formby engaged in discussions with Admiral Aquilino and other military leaders in 2023 regarding the military’s assistance in siting a new landfill on Oʻahu. Mayor Blangiardi thanks Admiral Aquilino and other military officials, including Rear Admiral Stephen D. Barnett, the commander of Navy Region Hawai’i, for their commitment to working collaboratively with the City on the shared objective of finding a suitable landfill site that benefits the greater Oʻahu community. 

“I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for the extraordinary effort that Admiral Aquilino and his command have provided the City and County of Honolulu over the course of this process,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi.

With Mayor Blangiardi having already eliminated federal lands on the Waiʻanae Coast from consideration, and with federal lands in Waimānalo near Bellows Air Force Station also excluded by the military, the City will pursue other possible alternatives, including the Landfill Advisory Committee’s recommendation that the City explore an amendment to Act 73 that would reduce the minimum buffer distance and/or utilize conservation lands to make additional sites available for consideration. The City also intends to engage in discussions with the Board of Water Supply to discuss best management practices for a possible landfill site within a No Pass Zone.

—PAU—

 

 

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