Audit of the Department of Health

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Landfills are nearing capacity throughout the country, yet few viable alternative
sites exist. Responding to the concern that present land use planning issues do not
adequately address all concerns in siting new landfills, the Legislature, through
Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 153 concluded during the 2003 Regular Session
that the State must reassess its solid waste management and landfill policies.


Basically, the audit was to include an assessment of existing policies and the
adequacy of fees charged for solid waste programs. To assist with this review, we
hired the consultant firm of MACTEC Engineering and Consulting, Inc., through
a competitive procurement process. Our office, however, was unable to obtain a
consultant to assess the adequacy of fees charged for solid waste programs.

In 1991, the Department of Health was assigned to administer the Hawaii Solid
Waste Management Act, Chapter 342G, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS). The
department is required to promote the development of coordinated statewide solid
waste management, including identifying and monitoring related environmental
and public health issues. The department is responsible for permitting, monitoring,
and enforcement for landfills and solid waste disposal systems under Chapter 342H,

We found that the Department of Health is not carrying out its solid waste
management responsibilities for public health and environmental protection.
Prior audits pointed out management problems that continue to exist; for example
the department is still not properly monitoring, inspecting, or enforcing solid waste
regulations, particularly for landfills.

The Department of Health takes an unreasonable amount of time to review permit
applications. In our sample of four landfills and one incinerator, the department
averaged a little over three years to review each application and issue a permit. In
one case, the department has still not issued a permit for an application received
in 1997.

Other examples of the department