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EPA sues over Honolulu landfill gasses

HONOLULU — Honolulu and the operator of a city-owned landfill near a resort are being sued by a federal agency that alleges the two have failed to install a system to control noxious odors coming from the site.

The Environmental Protection Agency filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court alleging that the city and Waste Management of Hawaii Inc. have failed to install a gas collection system at the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill in Leeward Oahu. The agency contends that the system that was installed in 2005 failed to comply with national standards, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

Nearby residents have been complaining about odors from the landfill for years and have demanded it be shut down. The company operates the 116-acre city-owned landfill under contract. It is within approximately 1,000 feet of Ko Olina Resort and 1,600 feet of residences.

City Environmental Services Director Lori Kahikina said the issues raised by the EPA have already been addressed under a consent decree and the city will not be paying a penalty.

“The alleged violations resolved by this consent decree were operational deficiencies for which Waste Management of Hawaii Inc. has taken full responsibility,” Kahikina said in a statement. “The company, which replaced its leadership team at the facility after the discovery of the alleged violations, will be solely responsible for paying the $1.1 million required by the consent decree.”

Waste Management of Hawaii announced Thursday that it had reached a final resolution with EPA concerning the issues at the landfill. Company spokeswoman Lily Quiroa said the settlement calls for implementing enhanced monitoring of landfill gases. The company also has a contingency plan and will react quickly if those gases exceed certain levels, she said.

Quiroa said the resolution reached with the EPA effectively closes the case.

The lawsuit says the city and Waste Management failed to submit a design or control plan for a gas collection and control system to the EPA by April 14, 2001, as required by federal regulations, failed to award contracts for construction or installation of such a system by Sept. 6, 2001, failed to start construction by Jan. 18, 2002, and failed to install and operate such a system by July 6, 2002.

The EPA claims that the system that started operation on Aug. 1, 2005, reported a maximum wellhead gas temperature of 188 Fahrenheit. Federal regulation requires the landfill gas temperature of each interior wellhead to be less than 131 F.

The agency is asking the court to order the defendants to comply with federal clean-air laws and regulations and to impose civil penalties until they do, with penalties ranging from $27,500 to $37,500 per day for each violation.

High surf expected for Oahu, Maui and Molokai

HONOLULU — The National Weather service says Oahu, Maui and Molokai can expect higher-than-normal surf over the next couple of days.

Forecasters have issued a high surf advisory for north and west-facing shores of the three islands, with waves being anywhere from 8 to 20 feet.

The advisory went into effect on Thursday morning and extends until at least this afternoon, and in some areas into the weekend. Forecasters say beach goers should watch for rip currents.