02/05/2015 03:11 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT

Crews removing 1,200 tons of rock left behind after lava flowed through trash transfer station

HILO, Hawaii - Work is underway to clear 40 truckloads of rock left behind after lava poured through a Big Island trash transfer station.

The county is getting ready to reopen the Pahoa solid waste transfer station in March. But first, crews need to clear more than 800 cubic yards — or about 1,200 tons — of lava rock. A construction company started breaking apart and hauling away the rock this week.

Workers also must reinstall a large water tank, reconnect electricity and do other repairs before the station can reopen, County Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd said.

The June 27 lava flow from Kilauea volcano forced the transfer station to close in October in anticipation of the slow-moving molten rock.

Lava oozed through the station's fence in November. It pooled on a driveway before stalling.

It's possible the lava could threaten the station again, but the risk is low for now, Leithead Todd told Hawaii Tribune-Herald ( ).

Reopening the transfer station is estimated to cost between $85,000 and $100,000, Leithead Todd said. Repaving could cost between $30,000 and $60,000. Loeffler Construction won the bid for removing the rock for $8,500.

Some of the rock will remain.

"We are going to build a couple of small walls around a few of the plants, and we're going to use some of it just as a feature," Leithead Todd said.

Lava that flowed down an embankment also will remain as long as it doesn't interfere with the facility's operations.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald,