KEEI — Hawaii County is again accepting greenwaste at the Keei Transfer station in South Kona after a three-month closure, with some new guidelines.
The closure was due to the facility having reached the maximum storage capacity allowed by the state Department of Health, according to the county Department of Environmental Management stated
DEM Director Bill Kucharski said on Tuesday that the South Kona station had significantly exceeded the 80 cubic yard limit set by the health department, leading to the closure.
Factors, including staffing issues and available equipment exacerbated the problem of commercial haulers filling the greenwaste area meant only for residential use.
“The commercial haulers got out of control,” said Shane Falemalu, who provides security at the greenwaste site through a county contract with Kaeka Group.
Falemalu on Tuesday morning was checking and recording all users of the site to make sure they were in compliance with the new regulations, including only one load per day per residential customer, with a maximum quantity of 5 cubic yards. Logs, branches or other greenwaste greater than 6 inches in diameter or 5 feet in length were not accepted.
He said he is also looking for obvious farm waste.
“Farm is commercial,” he added. “They can’t dump here.”
All nonresidential greenwaste in West Hawaii, including farm waste, must be taken north to the Puuanahulu Landfill where it will be weighed and charged at $25 per ton. That charge increases to $28 per ton in July.
“That station is problematic in a number of ways,” said Kucharski, referring to the one lane road leading to the Keei facility, loading challenges and personnel resources.
“We need to bring a grappler down with a licensed operator to load the truck,” Kucharski added. “We will get down there at least once a week, but if we can’t get there more often it will be shut down once it reaches capacity until we can.”
Capacity is marked by boulders so site personnel can determine when to close the area, he said.
Zach Hagen was unloading a truck load of greenwaste after the facility reopened Tuesday, happy that the site was in operation again.
“It’s very important to the community down here,” said Hagen, who noted that homeowners were piling greenwaste on their properties during the shutdown. “When it dries out it creates a fire hazard. We’ll do whatever it takes to keep it open.”
The county is scouting an alternative, safer and more convenient location for the transfer station, but any move is years down the line.
Kucharski added the department has a $38 million budget, with $18 million to $20 million coming from the general fund. The rest of the funds are raised through commercial tipping fees.
“Free services can be very expensive,” noted Kucharski.
Hours of operation for the greenwaste facility in Keei are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Friday.
Info: Visit www.hawaiizerowaste.org.