U.S. District Judge Edward Shea of Richland issued a temporary restraining order Thursday barring the shipment of hundreds of thousands of tons of Hawaiian garbage to a landfill in Klickitat County for at least 30 days.
A coalition including Friends of the Columbia Gorge, the Yakama Nation and local residents sued in federal court Wednesday to block the shipments after the U.S. Department of Agriculture cleared the way for them to begin today.
In the lawsuit, plaintiffs contend that the garbage could introduce invasive plants and animals into the Gorge environment and that the plan has not received adequate environmental analysis.
“Judge Shea’s decision today means that the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area, the region’s agricultural base, and the Yakama Nation’s tribal treaty rights are safe for at least another 30 days,” said Michael Lang, conservation director for Friends of the Gorge. “We are hopeful that this decision will cause the USDA to step back and fully examine the very real threat of harmful invasive species being introduced into the Gorge by the importation of this garbage.”
The judge found “serious questions related to whether the USDA adequately analyzed the environmental impacts of the shipments,” whether the department adequately consulted with the Yakama Tribe, and whether the shipments comply with the National Historical Preservation Act.
A private operator, Hawaiian Waste Systems, received final approval earlier in the week to begin shipping large bales of shrink-wrapped garbage from Honolulu to be buried at the Roosevelt Regional Landfill in Klickitat County, which already receives imported garbage from mainland cities.
Under the plan, the garbage would be shipped to the Port of Longview, where it would be offloaded and shipped by rail through Clark County to the landfill.