Ko Olina beaches remain closed today as the city’s landfill operator continues to release rainwater from the Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill into the storm drainage system, which flows into the ocean.
The Honolulu Department of Environmental Services says the “unprecedented series of heavy rain events over the last week” prompted the decision to have Waste Management, the landfill operator, discharge the water over several days.
The storm drains discharge into the ocean between Ko Olina and the Kahe Power Plant.
The state Health Department said there was an uncontrolled release of stormwater Wednesday night and refuse, including medical waste, washed ashore at the Ko Olina Lagoons. The city has posted warning signs and water samples are being collected.
“After having numerous and ongoing discussions with various branches of the state Department of Health over the past several days, the decision was made to release the stormwater today, given the lack of feasible alternatives,” the city said in a news release.
“The city will continue to meet with its operator to discuss the discharge, to ensure compliance with all applicable permits and laws, and will investigate the accumulation of stormwater as well as the possible presence of sterilized medical waste,” the city said.
The flooded cell where the rainwater has collected last received waste on December 18 and was covered at the end of the day in conformance with Waste Management’s permit, the city said.