Dis­posal rules de­lay beach cleanups

Many shore ar­eas also do not fall un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of ei­ther the city or state

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL & BUSINESS - By Gor­don Y.K. Pang gor­don­pang@starad­ver­tiser.com

The con­fu­sion and com­plex­ity over who deals with the ocean de­bris that col­lects along Oahu’s beaches was un­der­scored over the New Year’s week­end when thou­sands of pounds of nets, plas­tics and other non-biodegrad­able flot­sam washed ashore in Kailua. Both the state and the city han­dle ocean de­bris depend­ing on where it is and what kind of threat it poses. But there are also times when no gov­ern­ment agency will re­spond.

The state is re­spon­si­ble for de­bris in nearshore wa­ters up to the so-called “high-wa­ter mark,” es­sen­tially an eye­ball as­sess­ment of how far up the beach the wa­ter goes at high tide. Both the Depart­ment of Land and Nat­u­ral Re­sources and city Depart­ment of Parks and Recre­ation rec­om­mend peo­ple re­port ma­rine de­bris through DLNR’s on­line form at 808ne.ws/2Dbe­wSd. The city is re­spon­si­ble for the re­moval of de­bris above that wa­ter line, and will pick up de­bris within its parks and rights of way that lead to un­in­cor­po­rated beaches or other shore­line. But due to per­son­nel con­straints, the city reg­u­larly will clean only within its de­fined parks. That was the case when large amounts of de­bris washed ashore along the length of Kailua Bay. Much of the waste moved north, past Kalama Beach Park, into an area known as “Cas­tle’s.” Beach­go­ers and non­profit

groups, in­clud­ing 808 Cleanups, sprang into ac­tion late on Jan. 1 and early Jan. 2, col­lect­ing the ma­rine de­bris both in the wa­ter and on the sand and plac­ing it in piles just above the high-wa­ter mark.

State and city of­fi­cials, mean­while, needed to de­ter­mine what kind of de­bris was

ac­cu­mu­lat­ing and pre­cisely where, and then con­sult with each other be­fore tak­ing ac­tion sev­eral days later. Parks Di­rec­tor Michele Nekota said it took sev­eral days for the city to ad­dress the Kailua Beach ma­rine de­bris sit­u­a­tion be­cause depart­ment staff mem­bers “were busy tak­ing care of their of­fi­cial du­ties af­ter the New Year’s hol­i­day week­end.” “Once the sit­u­a­tion was as­sessed and af­ter com­mu­ni­cat­ing with (DLNR),” the parks depart­ment took ac­tion, Nekota said in an email to the Honolulu Star-Ad­ver­tiser. “Crews from sev­eral di­vi­sions (of Parks and Recre­ation) have both vis­ited and cleaned ar­eas along this corridor on sev­eral oc­ca­sions,” Nekota said, not­ing that on Jan. 4 and 5, “our rov­ing main­te­nance crew was able to haul a large por­tion of the ac­cu­mu­lated de­bris. She added, “Our sand clean­ing crew con­ducted op­er­a­tions at Kailua and Kalama beach parks dur­ing park clo­sure hours.”

But what about beach ar­eas like Cas­tle’s? Sev­eral dozen vol­un­teers, many of them mem­bers of 808 Cleanups, combed Cas­tle’s and other un­in­cor­po­rated sec­tions of beach, haul­ing much of the de­bris into or near trash bins at the beach parks, as well as at city-owned right of ways, in­clud­ing the al­ley known as the Kailu­ana “brow,” or beach right of way. Michael David Loftin, 808 Cleanups co-founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said his group es­ti­mates that sev­eral dozen vol­un­teers picked up 3,387 pounds of ma­rine de­bris along Kailua Beach over 10 days. He re­quested and re­ceived per­mis­sion to stack

de­bris from Cas­tle’s at Kailua Beach Park, he said. Much of the rest of the de­bris was hauled to 808 Cleanups vol­un­teers’ ve­hi­cles and trucked to an ap­proved dis­posal site.

Loftin said his group un­der­stands the lim­i­ta­tions faced by the state and city and is more than happy to take re­quests for calls to help. 808 Cleanups’ Face­book page acts al­most like a re­fer­ral site, with mem­bers putting out a call for help at dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions across the is­land al­most daily. On Thurs­day, DLNR staff called him to take care of nets that had gath­ered on a pri­vate prop­erty in Ka­haluu. Loftin said he dis­posed of 168 pounds of plas­tics by him­self.

But Loftin said he wishes it were eas­ier for both non­prof­its and in­di­vid­ual beach­go­ers to help out.

One hur­dle is that ma­rine de­bris is typ­i­cally not al­lowed at city refuse dis­posal sites be­cause those sites are des­ig­nated for house­hold waste. Non­prof­its that want to dis­pose of ma­rine de­bris must ob­tain per­mits from two de­part­ments — Parks and Recre­ation, and En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices. Non­prof­its “must com­plete a waiver form and pro­vide 24-hour no­tice so li­cense plates may be pro­vided to waive the non­prof­its’ tip­ping fees,” En­vi­ron­men­tal Ser­vices Deputy Di­rec­tor Ti­mothy Houghton said in an emailed re­sponse to ques­tions. The per­mits al­low the non­prof­its to dis­pose of the ma­rine de­bris at HPOWER or at the Ka­paa, Keehi and Kawailoa trans­fer sta­tions, Houghton said.

The prob­lem with HPOWER, Loftin said, is that it is on the op­po­site side of the is­land from Wind­ward Oahu, where most of the de­bris col­lects. “That’s more time and fuel, and th­ese peo­ple are giv­ing up their time for free al­ready,” Loftin said. “It’s slow, it’s bu­reau­cratic … very frus­trat­ing.”

Kahi Pacarro, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the non­profit Sus­tain­able Coast­lines Hawaii, said he would like the city to open up the Laie Con­ve­nience Cen­ter to ma­rine de­bris dis­posal. Laie com­mu­nity mem­bers have ex­pressed will­ing­ness to help clean up an in­creas­ing amount of de­bris at their beaches but be­ing re­quired to haul the de­bris else­where has dis­cour­aged such ef­forts, Pacarro said. “What it comes down to in the cur­rent state of af­fairs of who’s re­spon­si­ble or not, it’s all of us,” he said. “We can’t rely on the gov­ern­ment and what we’re try­ing to do is em­power the lo­cal res­i­dents to take care of it them­selves.” Robin Bond, chair­man of the Hawaii Ocean Safety Team, which pro­motes stew­ard­ship of Hawaii wa­ters, said he wishes there were a one-stop, 24-hour hot­line to deal with ma­rine de­bris is­sues but he doesn’t be­lieve it will hap­pen any­time soon due to the lack of fund­ing and mo­ti­va­tion.

BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARAD­VER­TISER.COM

Ocean cur­rents re­cently washed an un­usu­ally heavy amount of de­bris onto Kailua Beach, in­clud­ing large fish­ing nets, rope, a va­ri­ety of plas­tic prod­ucts and drift­wood. Beach­go­ers and groups in­clud­ing 808 Cleanups be­gan col­lect­ing the de­bris and pil­ing it above the high-wa­ter mark on the north end of the beach on Jan. 1 and 2.

BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARAD­VER­TISER.COM

Ra­mon Vrielink pulled ashore plas­tic de­bris he saw bob­bing in the surf at Kailua Beach on Jan. 2. His wife, Lianne Cameron-Vrielink, came over to help.

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