For immediate release, December 19, 1999
TOXIC WASTE AND CONTAMINATED DREDGE MATERIALS FROM THE ALA WAI CANAL CLEANUP PROJECT TO
BE DUMPED AT THE REEF RUNWAY, HONOLULU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
EnviroWatch, Inc. has learned that the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural
Resources (DLNR) has contracted with Belt Collins Hawaii Ltd. to develop the final design
and environmental permit for dredging the Ala Wai Canal and dumping the waste materials at
Honolulu International Airports Reef Runway. The project is anticipated to begin
August, 2000, and be completed by November, 2001.
Dumping is to occur at a site that has served as a Solid Waste Management Facility
(SWMF) since 1994. The permitted site consists of twelve cells on approximately 200 acres
of undeveloped land south of Runway 8R-26L (Reef Runway). However, at this time, permitted
materials only include soils contaminated with petroleum products of gasoline, diesel/ jet
fuel or heavy oils and soils containing PCBs in concentrations less than 1.00 parts
On October 13,1999, Belt Collins submitted a document to the Hawaii State Department of
Health addressing the "Screening Level Human Health Risk Assessment and Ecological
Risk Evaluation for Placement of Dredged Materials at Reef Runway (SLHHRA). The risk
assessment will be used to develop conditions for the solid waste management permit".
Some of the contaminants in the dredged materials identified in the SLHHRA are heavy
metals (arsenic, zinc, lead, copper, chromium, nickel,cadmium and mercurty ), pesticides
(chlordane, heptachlor, dieldrin dichlorodiphenyltrichloethane[DDT},
polychhloronated biphenyls(PCBs), polynucleararomatichydrocarbons(PAHs), and
EnviroWatch, Inc. believes that the proposed dumping of contaminated sludge from the
Ala Wai Canal should not be allowed at the Reef Runway because it will pose a significant
and serious threat to the marine environment or "Reef" immediately surrounding
First some background. The runway was built by dumping fill materials on an existing
reef. that was rezoned from Conservation to Urban to allow for construction. In the
process it was deemed not to be "shoreline or coastal water related land", but
was turned into "industrial land reserved for airport operations". After
construction most of the land to the south of the runway was lower than the design grades
shown on the 1972 plans so it was turned into a permitted Soil Management Facility (SMF),
for specific materials. Even today "in most of the SWMF area the ground surface
elevations are less than the design grades" and "the Soil Management Facility is
a continuation of the engineered fill toward the original design elevations".
This information in itself raises a number of concerns, particularly since the fill
materials originally used to construct the reef runway were porous and do not prevent the
percolation of existing or new contaminants into the underground aquifers. Therefore, just
what kind of additional "fill" materials should be allowed at the site? Are
toxic materials we dont want in the Ala Wai good candidates?
An even bigger concern is raised by the grade of the land, which is the reason the fill
is being put there in the first place. Has drainage or runoff from materials dredged from
the Ala Wai and dumped at the site been adequately considered?
Furthermore, what about the method of transportation chosen to get the materials from
the Ala Wai to the airport? The material will be slung on to open barges for delivery to
the site. The barges, dripping with wet materials, will pass by our beaches and through
the whale sanctuary to get to the runway. During both the transport and unloading phases
there will most likely be spills from barges that will contaminate the water between the
dredging area and the dump site. We believe that any spillage of materials during
transport will have a significant impact on humpback whales and other marine mammals, as
well as on water based recreation, commercial charter boats and recreational fishing, and
that the impact has not been adequately addressed.
The original permit for the Solid Waste Management Facility (SMWF) only allowed for
certain, specific pollutants and only included a minimum of precautions to address
potential problems that could arise from the few restricted contaminants it did address.
Therefore, DOH would be seriously remiss if it authorized the facility to receive
additional waste materials that are more toxic than the facility was originally designed
to contain. The records already indicate that there have been cases where the cadmium
(heavy metal) concentration of the background or existing soil at the site has exceeded
the allowable concentration stated in the permit, indicating the site has received soil
from sources that contained quantities Cadmium exceeding the allowable quantity of 2.0
Will there be adequate controls in the future? At a minimum a full environmental
assessment should be conducted rather than just piggy backing this onto the Solid Waste
It should be noted that Belt Collins contracted directly with the DLNR Lands Division
for the dredging and, to our surprise, no one in the DLNR Aquatics Division knew about the
proposal when we contacted them on December 17, 1999. Because the proposal will effect the
ocean environment in so many ways, the Aquatics Division should have been directly
involved. Their lack of involvement strongly suggests that the project has not received
proper review and should be denied.
It should also be noted that there is at least one "dredged materials" dump
site on the Island of Oahu regulated by the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. Therefore,
why was the airport location selected? Is the stuff being dredged from the Ala Wai only
seen as land fill or is there something more to it?
For further information please contact Carroll Cox, at 808-625-2175 or pager
The SLHHRA and other materials can be viewed at our website - www.envirowatch.org