Hawaii Landfill Operator Fined $1.1M Under EPA Settlement

March 4, 2013

Honolulu and the operator of the city’s only landfill have agreed to make changes that will reduce the risk of a fire breaking out at the Waianae coast site, as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The settlement, which includes a $1.1 million fine, resolves allegations Waste Management and the city failed to build a system to collect and control gas generated by decomposing garbage as required by federal law.

As part of the deal, Waste Management will improve its monitoring of gases to reduce the risk of fire, follow fire response procedures in the vent of a fire, and pay the fine.

“Our settlement helps reduce the risk of fire at the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill, where gases reach temperatures that are among the highest for any landfill in the nation,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in a news release.

This will protect the community and the environment from exposure to toxic landfill gas, he said.

The landfill has recorded temperatures as high as 188 degrees Fahrenheit, he EPA said. The federal limit for landfill gas temperatures is 131 degrees Fahrenheit.

Waste Management of Hawaii Inc. spokeswoman Lily Quiroa said the deal is part of a final resolution with EPA concerning the issues at the landfill. The resolution effectively closes the case, she said.

City Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said the issues raised by the EPA have already been addressed under a consent decree and the city will not be paying a penalty.

“The alleged violations resolved by this consent decree were operational deficiencies for which Waste Management of Hawaii Inc. has taken full responsibility,” Kahikina said in a statement. “The company, which replaced its leadership team at the facility after the discovery of the alleged violations, will be solely responsible for paying the $1.1 million required by the consent decree.”

Nearby residents have been complaining about odors from the landfill for years and have demanded it be shut down, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. The city-owned landfill is within about 1,000 feet of Ko Olina Resort and 1,600 feet of residences.

The EPA brought charges against the company and city, alleging the gas collection system installed at the landfill in 2005 failed to comply with national standards.

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