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Proposed cement facility relocation at Kahului Harbor passes next hurdle

Commission signs off on final EA, plan heads to state

Hawaiian Cement’s proposed facility relocation project site at Kahului Harbor is shown. Built in 1972, the existing facility at Kahului Harbor allows Hawaiian Cement to import bulk cement through a special barge. The cement is transferred from the barge to two existing silos via underground pipeline near Pier 2 and Pier 3. HAWAIIAN CEMENT photos

With a nod Tuesday from the Maui Planning Commission, Hawaiian Cement is about halfway through a lengthy process to relocate its Kahului Harbor facility about 600 feet away.

The commission voted 7-0 to accept the company’s final environmental assessment and issue a finding of no significant impact for the project, which proposes to replace the company’s aging existing facility with a new one.

As the sole bulk cement import facility on Maui, the infrastructure project is critical, according to Kurt Wollenhaupt, county planner.

It will “continue the flow of cement into the island of Maui so that concrete can be made, poured and used for all the purposes that it is,” he said during the commission meeting Tuesday morning.

Built in 1972, the existing facility at Kahului Harbor allows Hawaiian Cement to import bulk cement through a special barge. The cement is transferred from barge to two existing silos via underground pipeline near Pier 2 and Pier 3.

Hawaiian Cement’s existing silos (upper right) would be replaced with newer ones (rendering in red circle) if its proposed cement facility relocation project gains necessary entitlements. The Maui Planning Commission voted Tuesday to unanimously approve the company’s final environmental assessment and issue a finding of no significant impact.

The state Department of Transportation Harbors Division prepared a 2012 Kahului Harbor development plan that calls for the facility’s relocation. Plus, DOT has indicated it will not renew the lease for the existing facility, project consultant Tessa Munekiyo Ng of Munekiyo Hiraga said at the meeting.

Munekiyo Ng said the new silos will be 90 feet high, complying with zoning height limits. She added that they will be slightly lower than the existing ones.

Also, the existing silos have a capacity of 3,200 tons; the new ones will allow 6,000 tons.

Addressing previous questions about construction, Munekiyo Ng said the work will use an air-inflated PVC fabric structure that will set the critical form of the silos. Large fans will inflate the structure and set the dome shape. Then, all of the construction will happen inside the dome, including insulation, reinforcing steel and concrete work.

“This construction methodology provides for a clean work area, is environmentally friendly and economical,” she said.

Design modifications since the draft environmental assessment include a large stair tower that’s been replaced with a spiral staircase attached to the southern silo. The warehouse was minimized and centered between the two silos. And the southern lot line was offset approximately 18 feet.

Other comments from the commission centered on greenhouse gases.

Munekiyo Ng said there are no greenhouse gas emissions directly resulting from the existing facility nor will there be any from the proposed relocated facility.

“Both facilities are powered by electricity and do not involve any combustion processes,” she said.

Other than moving the cement facility, Hawaiian Cement’s project proposes to install underground piping to connect the facility to the pier, demolish certain existing sugar-related facilities and demolish the existing facility with its underground pipelines.

Although the relocated facility will be on privately owned land outside the shoreline setback area, the installation of underground pipes connecting the facility to the pier will cross state lands located within the shoreline setback area. The use of state lands and work within the shoreline area triggered the environmental assessment.

Wollenhaupt said the project is required to pass a “considerable number” of reviews.

The draft environmental assessment was heard by the Planning Commission on June 23. The Maui County Cultural Resources Commission reviewed it and added comments July 2. Also, the county Urban Design Review Board gave feedback Sept. 1, he said.

With the final environmental assessment and the finding of no significant impact, the Planning Department will send the decision to the state Office of Environmental Quality Control for the 30-day period. If that determination stands, then the department will continue working with the company to process the application for the special management area use permit and also the shoreline setback variance.

Commissioners during the meeting praised the project’s environmental assessment and the work done so far.

“To the extent with which they responded to every single query, not just ours but everybody’s, I thought that it was done extremely well,” Planning Commission Chairman Lawrence Carnicelli said before the vote.

“Welcome to the halfway mark of your journey,” he added later.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

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