New composting sites eyed

HILO — Hawaii County will review three potential sites for a new composting facility after tossing a plan to build it near the Hilo landfill.

Bill Kucharski, county Environmental Management director, said his department is hiring AECOM to conduct the site review that would be used for a new environmental assessment.


He said the contractor will assess the potential sites’ impacts to traffic, residents and businesses, among others.

Plans to build the $10.4 million facility near the landfill was opposed by Panaewa residents because of the proximity to Hawaiian homeland lots.

In response to the concerns, Mayor Harry Kim negotiated a new agreement with Hawaiian Earth Recycling, the contractor that does mulching for the county and would build and operate the composting facility to allow for a new site.

Kucharski said potential sites include the Shipman business park and an existing transfer station. He didn’t want to provide additional details until the assessment is complete.

But Kucharski said one of their considerations include finding sites that would be miles, rather than yards, from homes.

He said that’s not a hard rule, but “we are looking to establish a good distance from the operations.”

The assessment could take six to eight months to complete, and would be subject to public comment.


The plan is to have the facility, which would reduce food waste that is dumped in the county’s landfills, operational by July 2020, Kucharski said.

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