What do you think about shrink-wrapped bales of garbage barged from tropical Hawaii across the Pacific down the once-fierce Columbia River to Longview? Just doesn’t sound like a good idea, does it?
Don’t feel too good about reports that the plan, hatched about six months ago by Seattle-based Hawaiian Waste Systems, may have hit a snag, reports The Longview Daily News reporter Andre Stepankowsky. It’s likely to prove only a temporary delay. Getting an amendment to its federal permit has taken longer than expected, a company official says. The amendment involves a change of plans — instead of shipping all the way to the Roosevelt Landfill in central Washington, the garbage would be barged to lower Columbia ports, from where it would make the rest of the journey by truck or train, saving time.
Already, 300 tons of Honolulu garbage is stacked up at a port there, shrink-wrapped in tight bales, awaiting transport to the scenic Pacific Northwest. Officials are concerned it may become a health hazard.
The plan has already survived a review by the Department of Agriculture, which found that if the garbage was shrink-wrapped, those pesky nonnative pests couldn’t get out. Yeah, I’m sure that’s absolutely never gonna happen. The Vancouver Columbian writes:
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the company’s original plan to barge the waste directly to Roosevelt. The agency’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found that the proposal would not introduce exotic nonnative pests from Oahu, which could pose a serious environmental threat to the Pacific Northwest. The USDA required the garbage to be transported in baled air-tight packages.
Can we live a sustainable lifestyle when it requires us to barge thousands of tons of garbage 3,000 miles across the ocean to a landfill in south central Washington? The same area, I might add, that Seattle citizens send some of their garbage to? A service for which the city of Honolulu will pay Hawaiian Waste Systems $99 per 100,000 tons of garbage? As long as it’s that cheap to live that irresponsibly, the answer is clearly no. Some might say that living this unsustainable lifestyle is itself a health hazard, to us and to our planet.
— Rita Hibbard