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by Barbara Payomo, staff writer

One branch’s trash dump is now another’s treasure. Marines, Air Force personnel, and Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono were present at the blessing ceremony to mark the completed clean-up of a former landfill at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, on Feb. 21.
According to Marine Corps documents, the landfill, known as LF24, was part of property originally assigned to the U.S. Air Force but transferred to the Marine Corps in 1999. As part of the transfer, the Air Force was required to conduct an environmental investigation that determined the site was not safe. The Marine Corps requested funding to eliminate the landfill in order to make the training area usable as well as prevent any buried waste at the site from unintentionally making its way into the ocean. However, the area was determined not suitable for Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) funding.
Waimanalo residents lobbied the military to clean up the area, and the requested funds were eventually made available in August 2007, when Hirono helped secure $2 million in Marine Corps funds to clean up the World War II era landfill. The Marines acquired the money in December 2007 and immediately gave the funds to the Air Force, whose familiarity with the site and expertise were well documented.
The Air Force chose CH2M Hill as the contractor for the clean-up. Part of the contract stressed sub-contracting to local small businesses. In all, of the 13 sub-contractors used for the project, 11 were based in Waimanalo or the Hawaiian Islands, ensuring local support and recognition for the efforts.
The Air Force’s Environmental Restoration department at Hickam Air Force Base fronted the project and supported Marines from Marine Corps Base Hawai’i as well as personnel from the Hawai‘i Department of Health and the Waimanalo community as part of a Key Stakeholders Working Group that helped supervise the local beautification project.
For more information regarding the LF24 clean-up, contact the Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i Public Affairs Office or Ms. Claudia de Leon, 15 CES/CEVR, Community Involvement Specialist, Hickam AFB, at 449-3195, or Claudia.deleon@hickam.af.mil. You can also visit www.mcbh.usmc.mil.


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