BREAKING: EPA, Maui Reach Settlement Over Pollution at Landfill

October 24, 2012, 8:38 AM HST · Updated October 24, 9:15 AM
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Puunene, Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

The County of Maui has agreed to a settlement with the US Environmental Protection Agency to resolve alleged air pollution violations at the Central Maui Landfill in Puunene.

The settlement resolves allegations that the county violated the Clean Air Act by failing to design, construct and operate a gas collection and control system; apply for a permit from the state Department of Health; prepare a startup, shutdown and malfunction plan; and operate controls within the gas temperature limit.

The County of Maui will spend an estimated $5.1 million on compliance measures and renewable energy projects as part of the agreement. There is also a $380,000 civil penalty that the county must pay.

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The settlement requires the county to implement enhanced gas monitoring to help reduce the threat of underground fires. Under the agreement, the county must also build a renewable energy wind farm to reduce fossil fuel power plant emissions near the landfill.

EPA officials say the county will be responsible for the installation of at least eight wind turbines collectively capable of generating approximately 55,000 kilowatt hours per year. The project, officials say would be capable of supplying up to 38% of the landfill’s power needs.

The turbines and installation are estimated to cost at least $250,000, according to EPA estimates.

“Today’s settlement is good news for the families living in Kahului,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest in a media statement.

“Achieving compliance with the Clean Air Act and reducing emissions at a landfill and the power plant, while supporting renewable energy, is a win-win,” said Blumenfeld.

According to county estimates, about $4.5 million has been spent to design and construct a gas collection and control system required by the Clean Air Act at the landfill.

EPA officials say effective controls at the landfill reduces the release of gases such as methane generated from by decomposing refuse, preventing them from escaping into the atmosphere.

The consent decree is still subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

***Supporting information courtesy US EPA.

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