Maui County reaches pollution agreement with EPA
Windmills at Puunene landfill will reduce emissions, produce electricity for Valley Isle
The County of Maui and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are calling a settlement between both governmental entities a "win-win."
The EPA announced Wednesday that the county has agreed to a settlement to resolve alleged violations of air pollution laws at the Central Maui Landfill in Puunene.
The settlement requires the county to implement enhanced gas monitoring to help reduce the threat of underground fires at the landfill and to follow fire response procedures in the event of a fire.
The county says it will build a gas collection and control system at the landfill. Windmills will also be installed near the landfill's self-service facility to reduce fossil fuel power plant emissions near the landfill, and are anticipated to be barely visible from the roadway.
"We are pleased that a major component of the agreement is the installation of a small eight-turbine wind farm that both supports Maui County's commitment to clean energy and will act as the County's pilot project for small-scale wind energy facilities," said Arakawa. "As an additional benefit, the electricity produced by the windmills is anticipated to supply a significant percentage of the electrical requirements of the landfill."
"Today’s settlement is good news for the families living in Kahului," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Achieving compliance with the Clean Air Act and reducing emissions at a landfill and the power plant, while supporting renewable energy, is a win-win."
The county estimates that it has spent about $4.5 million to design and construct a gas collection and control system required by the Clean Air Act at the landfill. The county will also pay a civil penalty of $380,000.
Federal law requires large landfills to install and operate systems to collect gases generated by decomposing refuse, such as air toxics, organic compounds, and methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Effective gas controls at the landfill reduces the release of these gases, preventing them from escaping into the atmosphere.
Maui will also benefit by the reduction of power plant emissions as a result of the wind turbine project.
The county is responsible for the installation of at least eight wind turbines collectively capable of generating approximately 55,000 kilowatt hours per year which could supply up to 38 percent of the landfill's power needs.
The wind turbines and installation are estimated to cost at least $250,000. In addition to reducing emissions from power generated by fossil fuels, the project is aligned with sustainability goals of the county and the state.
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