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Company withdraws federal permit to ship city trash

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 12:44 a.m. HST, Aug 19, 2010

Federal agricultural officials have withdrawn their permit allowing shipments of trash from Oahu to Washington state, raising serious questions about the fate of 100 tons of baled trash at Campbell Industrial Park and criticism from the shipper.

Hawaiian Waste Systems President Mike Chutz said the U.S. Department of Agriculture acted inappropriately in withdrawing approval for the shipments.

Chutz said he felt the department's decision Friday was based on a lawsuit in Washington state filed by Native Americans and others.

Chutz said the process of shipping the waste has been scientifically proven to be safe and has been used in Europe.

"We're committed to serving the customers and doing the best we can do," he said.

Larry Hawkins, spokesman for the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, was unavailable for comment.

The city administration is in the process of negotiating an end to a contract that would have allowed city solid waste to be shipped off Oahu.

City spokesman Bill Brennan said part of the discussion involves what to do with the trash.

Hawaiian Waste has 100 tons of baled trash in 250 shipping containers at Campbell Industrial Park.

Council members have said the shipment of the trash could help to reduce the amount of trash flowing into city landfills, in the event there are delays in the 2011 completion of expansion of waste-to-energy HPOWER facilities.

Brennan said the city is on track to complete expansion of HPOWER .

In September, the Hawaiian Waste reached a three-year agreement with the city to ship up to 100,000 tons of solid waste off island each year at a cost to the city of $100 a ton.

But delivery was halted when the business was unable to secure federal agricultural approval.

Both Chutz and Brennan declined to discuss details of the negotiation.

Federal Judge Edward Shea issued a temporary restraining order on July 29, halting the first shipments to the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Washington state .

Shea is scheduled on Aug. 30 to consider whether to issue a preliminary injunction to halt shipments until a trial determines if the department failed to comply with environmental review procedures.

The Yakama Nation and others filed the lawsuit, alleging the USDA failed to adequately analyze the environmental, religious and cultural impacts.

Yakama tribal leaders also charged the agreement violated terms of a pact requiring federal officials to consult with tribal leaders.

CORRECTION: The U.S. Department of Agriculture withdrew a permit from Hawaiian Waste Systems for shipments of trash to the mainland. A headline in a previous version of this story erroneously said the city lost the permit.

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