KANEOHE (KHON2) — A grueling campaign to take 7,200 lbs. of tires out of the ocean at Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor in Kaneohe Sunday still leaves much work left to be done.
That is according to the Ocean Defenders Alliance, which says that there are still thousands of tires both at the harbor as well as at other dive locations they’ve visited across Oahu.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources, which runs the harbor, said that most of the tires are due to boaters.
“I believe the majority of the tires come from people’s docks. They attach the tires to be used as fendering and over time they fall off. Instead of retrieving the tire they just get another one to replace it. We have told people not to use tires for that reason as well as the fact that hanging the tires damages the piers. I have never heard of people discarding tires into the water. Usually, the tires are just left in the harbor,” DLNR said.
But what ODA recovered on Sunday was full of commercial vechile-sized tires, and they said 65 of the 110 recovered were on the beach. When KHON2 visited Tuesday evening, a young man was witnessed tossing a motorcycle tire into the bay before driving off in the vehicle.
Honolulu City Council Vice-Chair Esther Kiaaina has a message for those dumping tires.
“They are disrespecting our communities, disrespecting the environment, and our oceans, and that is completely unacceptable. Shame on them,” Vice-Chair Kiaaina said.
The cleanup Sunday came after ODA recovered 40 large truck tires out of the same spot back in February.
“When I saw the size of it my heart broke because I thought how can anyone?” Vice-Chair Kiaaina said. “We talk a lot about visitors and impact on the communities. These are locals. These are local businesses who are disregarding our laws and not disposing of tires properly.”
According to Honolulu Environmental Services, the large commercial vehicle tires aren’t accepted at the two transfer stations, Kapaa and Kawailoa, except tires due to the permit they have with H-Power.
They say that any tire larger than a light truck tire must go to a private recycler. That includes many lifted truck tires. Private recycling is said by environmental services to be significantly more than the $5 per tire for a standard car tire at a transfer station.
State representative for the harbor’s district Lisa Kitagawa says her office is working on a solution.
“We are communicating with the Department of Land and Natural Resources about this issue and will continue to work with them to find solutions to address the issue of tires and other ʻopala polluting our waters off of Heʻeia Kea Small Boat Harbor,” Rep. Kitagawa said. “Kāneʻohe Bay holds cultural, environmental and scientific importance. We must continue to work together to maintain this treasured natural resource.”
Vice-Chair Kiaaina is also looking into what the city can do to deter the dumping.
“It begs the larger question for the cost of disposing of such tires. Are there ways we can work to make that happen separate from that private facility so that cost could be lowered?” she said.
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