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January 2005

President's Message (Jackie Parnell)
Monitoring Charter Review Commission Is Crucial (Jean Aoki)
League Party on January 21 (Mary Anne Raywid)
Council Watch (Evangeline Funk & Piilani Kaopuiki)
Landfills Can Be Desirable (Jackie Parnell)
Welcome New Members

Landfills Can Be Desirable

"What to do with Oahu's Solid Wastes?"

It has been interesting over the last month to watch our City Council dance around the question of where to locate additional landfill space on Oahu. One question which never really got addressed is the proper operation of a sanitary landfill. (Note: a sanitary landfill is not the same as a dump even though the media tends to use the terms interchangeably. A dump is just that: a dump. Dumps have been outlawed for at least twenty years.)

Any government-operated and/or permitted disposal site must now meet sanitary landfill standards which include having an impregnable layer between the bottom of the site and groundwater, daily compacting and daily application of a soil cover. There should be NO loose material, NO flies and NO odors beyond the borders of the site. A well-managed and operated landfill should be no more of a nuisance than any other construction activity.

Landfills as future parks

Why is this important? Because people who live near these kinds of operations don't become angry and sign petitions to stop the activity. Especially when they know that the finished landfill will become a park. They even see the landfill as an asset. This is what Los Angeles County has done for years. They have run their landfills so cleanly that people have bought lots on the rim of a canyon being filled with trash in anticipation of building their new house near the future park. And they have occasionally built and moved in early.

Why can't we do that? Why should Makakilo residents have to put up with flying papers and flies and odors? Why can't the City spend more of the tipping fees it gets on running a really good operation? This is not rocket science -- other communities do it. If we could put the emphasis on running a truly clean operation, we would not have to consider spending millions to ship our waste to the mainland. We might even have people looking at today's landfill as tomorrow's park.

For an example of what we could (and should) be doing, see the Los Angeles County Sanitation District's web site: www.lacsd.org/swaste/Facilities/swfaclts.htm.

Opinion Piece by Jackie Parnell
(whose Master's Thesis was entitled
"Planning for the Management of Solid Wastes")
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