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Medical waste continues to wash up at West Oahu beaches

Medical waste continues to wash up at West Oahu beaches today, hours before another storm hits Oahu and three days after heavy rainfall sent debris from the city’s landfill into the ocean.

City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard Tamayo said she’s been canvassing the beaches today and found more syringes and part of a medical waste container near the landfill’s discharge point and Ewa of Ko Olina.

Gabbard Tamayo, chairwoman of the Safety, Economic Development and Government Affairs Committee, said she was getting a group of volunteers together to help clean up the waste reaching the beaches.

“My concern is that the government is not treating this situation like the emergency that it is,” she said. “We’ve got hazardous materials, medical waste floating up on our shores, floating in the water and in some areas there are people out swimming in the water.”

Federal officials closed White Plains Beach and Nimitz Beach in Kalaeloa today because medical waste was found washing up on shore, a Navy spokeswoman said.

A city spokeswoman said city employees took more water samples today and also met with officials from the state Department of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, and the landfill operator Waste Management Hawaii.

City officials are ensuring the landfill operator is continuing with the clean up and discussing measures to prevent a similar discharge, the spokeswoman said.

In a statement, Waste Management Hawaii said employees had been cleaning up every day since the storm and walked Ko Olina and White Sands this morning.

“Since the storm, there has been no further discharge of new material,” Waste Management said.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has a flash flood watch in effect through late tonight for the Waianae coast and other parts of Oahu.

“With the ground very wet from heavy rain earlier in the week … any additional rain could lead to flash flooding,” the weather service said.

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