Gas collection system for landfill requested


A $4 million gas collection and control system for the West Hawaii Sanitary Landfill in Puuanahulu needs to be working by mid-December or Hawaii County could face fines.

That’s according to a Department of Environmental Management request to the Hawaii County Council to authorize the issuance of and appropriation of $4 million in general obligation bonds for the project. The council’s Finance Committee will consider the request at its meeting at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in Hilo. If given a positive recommendation by the committee, it will move to the full council for approval.

Solid Waste Division Chief Greg Goodale described the gas collection and control system as a multitude of straws and wells that suck gas from within the landfill and burn it off rather than let the gases emanate into the atmosphere. He said the system is needed solely to reduce emissions, not for safety.

“It’s 100 percent an environmental thing,” he said. “It’s greenhouse-gas related.”

Though not guaranteed, the county could face Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act daily fines starting Dec. 17 if the system is not online, Goodale said. The deadline follows a March 2011 notice to the county that it became subject to compliance with the EPA standards after a 2010 test showed its emissions exceeded limits.

Goodale was unable to provide an amount, but noted the fines for violating the Clean Air Act can be “pretty significant,” which Maui County recently learned when it agreed to build a system to collect gases and pay nearly a $400,000 fine for operating its Puunene landfill without the system.

Waste Management Inc., which is contracted as the landfill operator, will install the system in accordance with its contract with the county, according to the request. Installation should begin in the middle of the year.