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www.wmfd.com - Landfill space is hard to come by in Hawaii, so one company has come up with an innovative idea to cut down on the state's trash. }}" />

Turning Fishing Nets Into Energy In Hawaii

Story By: Larry Stine



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  Original Published: 4/2/2013Landfill space is hard to come by in Hawaii, so one company has come up with an innovative idea to cut down on the state's trash. It's turning fishing nets and other garbage into energy, and reducing a threat to marine life at the same time. CNN'S Kyung Lah explains. A huge haul for this long line crew. But it's not just fish they've caught. "All kinds of weird things floating out there," says Capt. Phillip Westbrook. Like this tire he brought in but the biggest problem by far for Westbrook is fishing nets. "It's an annoyance. If you run through it, you're in trouble," he says. For the majestic humpback whales that swim near Hawaii, it's life and death. NOAA estimates 300,000 water mammals worldwide die this way, entanglement from derelict fishing nets, strangled to death by the marine debris dumped in the Pacific. "Fisherman here don't even use this sort of netting. It's used elsewhere in the Pacific, and then swirls its way here to Hawaii,"says CNN's Kyung Lah. Hawaiian fishermen have been retrieving the nets and hauling it back and ditching it in the bins. But that's not the end of this story. "Because we're an island state, we can't drive to another state. We don't have endless land for landfill to put this type of debris," says Carey Morishige of NOAA Marine Debris. So, Schnitzer Steel, a Hawaii steel company, offered to start cutting up the nets, then haul the nets to Covanta Energy. "When I look at all that netting, I see garbage. What do you see?" asked Lah. ""We see energy!" says Robert Webster of Coventa Energy. How? Look inside, see that fire? Covanta burns the nets and other garbage produced on Oahu. The heat from the combustion process boils water, producing steam that drives a turbine that generates electricity. "This is a much smarter alternative to landfill. Some would say it's cleaner than a landfill. As far as the percentage of energy produced, we produce almost 10% of the energy for this island," says Webster. About 80 percent of Oahu's man-made garbage comes here and Covanta processes up to 3,000 tons per day of waste, feeding a portion of this island community's electricity needs. In case you're wondering, emissions from this plant are capped, making this one of the greenest ways to handle trash. A program so successful, non-profit groups like Hawaii Wildlife Fund pick up the large nets that wash up all around the islands. "We ship them to Oahu for the nets to energy program," says Megan Lamson of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. A green way to untangle a messy and dangerous eyesore.
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