Eight members of the city's Landfill Site Selection Committee agreed Friday to add federal lands to a list of possible locations for Oahu's next municipal landfill. One committee member was absent.
Nine federal properties were included for consideration, but their exact locations remain unknown. An initial screening process by consultant R.M. Towill Corp. may result in some of the federal lands being dropped, for example, if they're located too close to groundwater.
The committee began its meeting at Ward Warehouse with seven properties on its list. However, the list was quickly amended after some members expressed concern the process would be second-guessed. An additional six properties removed during an earlier meeting over concerns of storm runoff were also added back on.
That means with all of the potential sites added Friday, the Committee's final list of recommendations could contain 13 to 22 parcels of land. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle could pick the Committee's top choice for the city's next landfill, or select a property ranked lower.
"You've seen eight Committee members really take this process to the next step in trying to come up with a ranking for the next landfill site," said Markus Owens, spokesman for the city's Department of Environmental Services.
Although West Oahu City Councilman Tom Berg believes the city can use technology to eventually make a landfill obsolete, he believes some of the land surrounding Bellows Air Force Station in Waimanalo would meet all of the criteria for a new landfill. The only setback is it would take an act of Congress or a presidential executive order to release military land to the city.
"Ask our Congressional delegation to do just that. That's what they're there for," said Berg. "It would be a natural fit for a landfill there."
Committee members also "weighted" nineteen community criteria that will be used by the consultant to judge possible landfill sites from strongest to weakest. Members were given seven dots to place on whichever criterion they felt was most important. They were allowed to place more than one dot on each category.
A parcel of land's proximity to homes was rated the most important with six dots, while proximity to cultural or archeological sites received no dots.
Five other community criteria received five dots. They included the impact of the landfill site on traffic, location relative to the city's H-Power waste-to-energy plant, the impact of precipitation, surface water runoff and location relative to any other potential drawbacks.
After some debate as to whether those criteria receiving five dots should be reranked, members decided not to take any additional action. The consultant will include other technical criteria, including a site's proximity to archeological sites, before issuing final rankings.
The committee has scheduled another meeting at 9 a.m. on April 15. However, a location for the meeting has not been determined. Owens expects the committee to release its final list of possible landfill sites at that time.
"The mayor can take the top recommendation given to him from the committee, or he can move down the list, depending on how he views them."
Still, many West Oahu residents see the Landfill Site Selection Committee as a charade. City officials have gone on record to say that the current landfill, Waimanalo Gulch, should remain open for many more years.
The state Land Use Commission set a July 31 deadline for Waimanalo Gulch to stop accepting solid municipal waste, but the city appealed the decision before the Hawaii Supreme Court in February.
The city is also petitioning the city's Planning Commission to drop the deadline. If the Planning Commission agrees, the issue then moves back to the LUC. If not, the deadline will stand.