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Landfill debris cleanup continues; regulators in talks

By BJ Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 3:19 p.m. HST, Jan 17, 2011

Crews from the Waimanalo Gulch landfill continued the cleanup of the Leeward Coast shoreline today as talks continued between the city, the state Department of Health and the operator of the landfill on the cleanup of debris discharged after last week's heavy rains.

A spokesman for Waste Management, the landfill operator, said crews were completing the cleanup of White Plains Beach at Kalaeloa today with plans to move on to nearby Nimitz Beach. The cleanup is scheduled to continue tomorrow.

There was no immediate word of any runoff or problems caused by weather last night.

Storm runoff from heavy rains Thursday caused a discharge of debris, including medical waste, from the landfill into the ocean, and debris washed up on area beaches.

For much of yesterday, officials with the state DOH, the Environmental Protection Agency and the city Department of Environmental Services met with Waste Management to discuss the cleanup of medical waste washing ashore.

Those talks continued today, officials said.

Tim Steinberger, city director of environmental services, said officials have been satisfied with steps taken by Waste Management since the runoff.

Crews have been out collecting debris since Thursday, when the runoff first occurred. Operators also took steps to ensure that any new storm water would be contained on the landfill property.

Markus Owens, spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Services, said representatives from the Ocean Safety Division were out today looking for medical waste on non-city beaches, while all lifeguards have been told to watch for waste on city beaches.

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