On September 24, 2003, Honolulu League testified in support of the SMA permit for the proposed On-Vessel Bio-conversion Facility at Sand Island. The League supported the project vote for the following reasons:
- This is a "Must Do" project. Both EPA and the Department of Health find the present method of sludge handling unacceptable. Every day 70 tons of sludge are put into trucks and taken through Kalihi to the Waimanalo landfill. Building the digester will benefit Kalihi residents while extending the life of the landfill, a win-win situation.
- This is not a neighborhood issue or even a council district issue. This is a citywide issue. The Sand Island Treatment Plant receives wastewater from part or all of five council districts. The plant is not going to he relocated. The logical place for the digester is next to the plant. All the neighborhood meetings in the world will not change this basic fact.
- The environmental assessment indicated that there will be no significant environmental impact. There is no need for an EIS because there will still be no significant environmental impact, it will just cost more and take more time to do the extra document. Meanwhile, there will he the continued negative impact of 10 to 12 trucks a day of sludge going through Kalihi neighborhoods. When the digester is built, this will cease. We think this project has a positive environmental impact.
- EPA and DOH endorse the project. Fears have been raised about the possibly of an explosion, similar to those that happens in grain storage silos. An old plant in the process of being updated did have an explosion. It had little impact, did no harm and the plant was fully operational the next day. It was an irresistible story-- how often do you get to use "Dung Flung" in a headline -- but of no environmental or health significance.
- The height and appearance of the plant do not appear to be that objectionable. One hundred sixteen feet is about 12 stories, the height limit imposed by the Punchbowl Special Design District. The current 60-foot height limit apparently is related to Sand Island's proximity to the airport, not aesthetics. It is difficult to be concerned about tourists being put off by seeing a new building when there are so many existing ugly buildings and structures between the airport and Waikiki.