Categorized | Government, News

Fire suppression test set July 20-22 at former Kailua-Kona landfill


The County of Hawai`i Department of Environmental Management, Solid Waste Division, is planning a fire-suppression pilot test July 20-22, 2009, at the former Kailua-Kona Landfill (a.k.a. Old Kona Dump), located about three miles north of Kailua-Kona on the west coast of the Island of Hawai`i.

This work is being performed by the County as a Supplemental Environmental Project with oversight provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Work includes a fire-suppression pilot test using a foam fire suppressant to extinguish a subsurface area of burning waste.

The former landfill was used from the 1960s through December 1993 when it was closed by the County. The landfill is approximately 30 acres in size and located east of the Queen Ka`ahumanu Highway. Neighboring properties include the Kona Police Station, Kealakehe High School, and Kealakehe Elementary School. The closest residence is nearly 1 mile east of the landfill.

The prevailing wind direction at the site is from east to west (trade winds). Westerly winds (Kona winds) do occur, but less frequently than trade winds. During operation, several landfill fires were known to exist and waste combustion is believed to have continued after landfill closure to the present time. This pilot test is being conducted to test the use of fire-retardant foam to extinguish a known area of burning waste material located beneath the surface of the landfill’s final cover; this may be an effective method of extinguishing other subsurface landfill fires that are occurring or may occur in the future.

A small area of the landfill has been selected for the fire-suppression pilot test. This area’s landfill final cover and buried waste will be excavated and burning waste material will be extinguished by spraying it with fire-suppressant foam. Once extinguished, the waste material will be placed back in the excavation and capped with clean, dirt backfill material.

The County Fire Department and trained environmental professionals will be conducting the test under the supervision of the USEPA. The excavation is planned for a period of about three (3) days and is scheduled for daylight hours. Additional time may be required based on actual field conditions or inclement weather. The work could potentially result in visible smoke emanating from the work site. In order to protect the health and safety of site workers and the public, extensive air monitoring shall be undertaken during the fire-suppression test. Should any unacceptable levels of airborne particles be detected, the situation will be immediately corrected by foaming the waste materials. Work will only proceed if air monitoring indicates that smoke emissions are below permissible limits and will not pose a threat to Public health and safety.

“We appreciate your understanding as we try to improve the County’s ability to extinguish the subsurface fires at this closed landfill,” said Michael Dworsky, chief of the County’s Solid Waste Division. Anyone with questions or concerns about this project should call (808) 961-8515, or email

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