Halston moves from water to waste

A new landfill area on the lagoon side of Majuro Atoll Waste Company’s dump in Batkan is being developed to contain a large volume of rubbish. Photo: Eve Burns.

EVE BURNS

Halston deBrum is the new manager at Majuro Atoll Waste Company (MAWC).
Until moving to his new job earlier this month, deBrum had worked at Majuro Water and Sewer Company as an operations manager for 10 years.

Debrum, 35, studied at North Tristan Community College in Washington State before returning to Majuro.

Asked why he applied for the new position he responded, “it’s a good opportunity to learn new things.” DeBrum told the Journal he feels confident about taking on this challenge.

DeBrum said his goal is to reduce the mountain of garbage at the Batkan landfill. He also shared with the Journal the results of a 2017 study that showed 61 percent of the garbage collected is residential waste. This means the majority of MAWC’s collection work generates no revenue for the operation of the company. His idea is to develop a community service application to cover fees for equipment, salary, fuel, maintenance and trash bins.

“We have to renew these trash bins,” deBrum said of the bins that were provided by MAWC over 10 years ago. “These are costs that aren’t really covered or identified,” said deBrum. “We receive subsidies, I understand, but mostly for payroll. The goal of the Company Soft Offer (CSO) is to dispose of subsidies. This will be an actual contract between government and MAWC so that we procure a service that we’ll be providing to the community.”

Garbage collection is a service to the community that has not been costed out, said deBrum.

DeBrum said MAWC is the only agency in the RMI doing this type of community service agreement with the government. “We’ll be the first one if we do get it,” he said. “That’s the best way forward, financially for MAWC. Either that or we start charging people. Somebody’s got to pay for the cost.”

DeBrum said MAWC would move half of the garbage mountain at the current Batkan site to the new landfill that is in the process of being set up on the lagoon side of the dump. That site will be use for an incinerator and he hopes the filling in will start soon.

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