Oahu generates approximately 1.79 million tons of waste annually from residential, commercial and industrial sources. When it comes to the management of that waste–which also includes sterilized medical waste such as used needles and soiled bandages–state and local governments, corporate entities and private citizens currently involved in the barrage of alleged serious waste management violations are worried. Understandably, they seek to avoid accountability for any missteps, especially in light of possible legal charges or huge fines slapped on them by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 2002, 66-year-old Stanley Hong, president and CEO of both the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, settled into his new job overseeing the landfills on Oahu, Kauai and the Big Island in his capacity as president of Waste Management of Hawaii, Inc. (WMH), the local arm of a Houston-based firm. At the time, Hong was politically connected but had no background working in waste management. Little did Hong know that he was stepping into a job that would be the focus of major state controversy less than a decade later.