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U.S. EPA orders immediate cleanup and needed controls at Waimanalo Gulch Landfill

Release Date: 01/25/2011
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711, higuchi.dean@epa.gov

(01/25/11) HONOLULU – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued an order to Waste Management, Inc., with the company agreeing to take immediate steps to clean up recent releases of waste and contaminated stormwater and prevent future releases from the Waimanalo Gulch Landfill on Oahu.

Waste Management is the contractor operating the landfill for the City and County of Honolulu. On January 12 and 13, heavy rains caused extreme flooding at the landfill. A section of the landfill’s property filled with stormwater, causing waste to be released and resulting in beach contamination and beach closures.

“This catastrophic failure subjected Hawaii’s residents, visitors and coastal waters to a deluge of contaminated runoff, medical waste, and other trash. Our order requires immediate cleanup, continued monitoring of the beaches, and enhanced controls for stormwater runoff,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is working closely with the Hawaii Department of Health to prevent future incidents and protect residents’ health and the environment.”

EPA promptly dispatched an emergency responder and engineers to assist the Hawaii Department of Health and the City and County of Honolulu with the response at the landfill. The response included monitoring ocean water and any water released from the landfill, stabilization of the site, and cleanup of waste from the landfill that reached nearby beaches.

The EPA Administrative Order sets a specific schedule with milestones to protect the environment and the public. The order requires the company to stop discharges to the ocean of stormwater currently being held at the landfill, continue daily beach inspections and cleanup, and improve the landfill’s stormwater diversion and sediment control to successfully handle runoff from rain events. The company must also report immediately to EPA any event that has the potential to cause a violation of the order.

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