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County proposes new Molokai solid waste facilities

Maui County plans to build two new disposal cells for the Molokai landfill within the next six years as the current disposal sites inch closer to full capacity.

Plans for the new disposal cells moved forward Tuesday after the project’s final environmental assessment was published in the Office of Environmental Quality Control’s “The Environmental Notice.”

The Molokai Integrated Solid Waste Management Facility is located on a 38-acre parcel about 3 miles northwest of Kaunakakai town. It’s the island’s only municipal solid waste disposal facility and offers a recycling center for glass, aluminum and plastic containers accepted under the state’s HI-5 recycling program. The facility also accepts cardboard, newspapers and used motor oil, as well as green waste that is shredded to use as mulch onsite or provided free to residents.

The landfill currently has four disposal cells that were opened in 1993, 1997, 2009 and 2014, according to the assessment. They are being filled with solid waste to about 50 feet above the surrounding terrain. (The site itself is about 200 to 250 feet above sea level.) The current sites encompass 11.6 acres, or a total capacity of 463,600 cubic acres, and are expected to reach full capacity by mid-2020.

The county Department of Environmental Management plans to build a new 3.1-acre disposal cell sometime during the current fiscal year, followed by another 3.7-acre disposal cell in fiscal year 2024. The new sites would bring the landfill’s total footprint to 18.4 acres, a total capacity of 815,200 cubic yards.

However, the project is not proposing an increase to the daily or annual permitted disposal tonnage, the assessment stated. From April 16, 2013, to May 7, 2017, the Molokai landfill received 19,351 tons of solid waste and used 78,150 cubic yards of disposal capacity. On average, the landfill received 4,766 tons and utilized 19,247 cubic yards of disposal capacity each year.

Project plans also call for relocating the existing green waste facility, which is currently located in the area where the county wants to open the sixth disposal cell. The green waste facility would be moved west of the Molokai Metals Facility, a separate facility that accepts and processes scrap vehicles, appliances and other scrap metal for storage and recycling.

Other improvements would include installing permanent fencing, as well as perimeter drainage and road improvements. An entrance channel would be installed to carry runoff to an existing storm water basin on site, next to the future location of the new disposal cell.

The county is planning to submit applications to the state Department of Health to permit the new sites for future solid waste disposal.

In total, the proposed project would cost an estimated $6.5 million and would allow the landfill to accommodate the island’s waste disposal needs through 2038.

However, the assessment pointed out that it’s difficult to consider future population growth and development given the current economy and the uncertainty surrounding Molokai Ranch. The current owners, GL Ltd., put the 55,575-acre property up for sale for $260 million last year and has yet to find a buyer.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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