A Mountain of Metal


By Todd Yamashita


Schnitzer Steel shipped off 3,200 tons of scrap metal to Oahu this past weekend to be recycled. The massive amount of scrap metal removed from Molokai Landfill included cars, washing machines, and discarded appliances.

While the amount of scrap appeared to be immense, Lawrence Kalilikane, buyer for the company, says that another 4,000 to 5,000 tons of scrap remains at the landfill including 25,000 tires that are also targeted for removal.

“A lot of people think this is easy – it’s not bad if you know what you’re doing,” said Kalilikane, who is at retirement age, and has spent almost 24 years in the recycling business. The Molokai local says he can estimate tonnage of scrap by sight, and is usually within 3% to 4% accurate of a load’s actual weight.

Kalilikane estimates that it took over 600 truck-loads to fill the barge to capacity. The operation took three days and included late-night shifts. Another three or four barge loads are required to complete the contract. The next round is scheduled for Oct. 19, 20, and 21.

According to Kalilikane, the remaining tonnage might exceed Schnitzer’s county contract. The original bid placed three years ago called for 5,000 tons to be removed. Since then, the total was increased to 6,500. Kalilikane estimates the total amount of scrap in the landfill could be as much as 8,000 tons.

Schnitzer Steel performs similar operations on most of the neighboring islands. Kalilikane said the company recently removed 3,800 tons of scrap from Kauai, and 3,000 tons from Lanai. After his contract is finished, he doesn’t expect  Molokai to need another removal for several years.


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