The ball is in Hawaiian Waste’s court to ship container loads of trash to a landfill in Washington state, federal and state officials said yesterday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given the go-ahead for the company to begin shipping, provided the business fulfills a compliance agreement.
USDA spokesman Larry Hawkins said federal inspectors suspended a test shipment of several containers last Friday after discovering some plastic-wrapped bales of waste had punctures and tears.
"The compliance agreement requires those bales to be completely sealed," Hawkins said.
Hawkins said Hawaiian Systems needs to re-wrap the bales.
"As long as the company is able to handle the bales under the compliance agreement, then they can go ahead and conduct their normal shipping operations," Hawkins said.
Meanwhile, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced yesterday that Hawaiian Waste needs to provide operational documents about its waste shipments to the city by today.
Without the documents, Hannemann said, the city was prepared to end the shipping contract.
"If they give us the operational documents and the USDA compliance agreement is still on its way, we’ll be OK with that," Hannemann said during a news conference in his office. "We just want all the operational documents by (today), and we’ve been assured they can make that happen."
Hannemann said the city has been patient.
"We just can’t continue to have this thing hanging over our heads," he said.
Some city elected officials view the shipment of city waste as a safety valve in the event the HPOWER waste-to-energy expansion project is not finished by 2011.
City officials plan to shut down the Waimanalo Gulch landfill by July 31, 2012, putting additional demand on HPOWER.
The company has a contract with the city to ship 100,000 tons of solid waste a year but has the capacity to ship between 300,000 to 500,000 tons yearly.
In September the business reached an agreement with the city to temporarily ship up to 100,000 tons of solid waste off island each year at a cost to the city of $100 a ton.
But its lack of federal approval forced the business to ask the city to halt delivery of trash and led to it holding 100 tons of waste in 250 shipping containers at Campbell Industrial Park.
State health officials fined the company $40,400 in May for illegal storage of waste.
The Roosevelt Regional Landfill, operated by Allied Services in Klickitat County, Wash., already receives waste from outside Washington, including Alaska.
Kevin Barry, director of Klickitat County’s Department of Public Health, said the approvals have been in place for about a year for the handling of waste materials in Washington state.
Hawaiian Waste President Mike Chutz said last Friday that federal inspectors in Hawaii had recommended approval of the shipment but that an official in Washington, D.C., was unavailable to make a decision on approving shipment.
Chutz was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Hawkins said inspectors could be brought over to check the containers whenever Hawaiian Waste schedules another shipment.
"It’s pretty much up to the company," Hawkins said. "When they tell us they’re ready to have those bales inspected and ready to do another shipment, then our inspectors will come out."