Councilwoman Naeole’s Testimony on Vog Bill

I received an email copy of the Testimony that Councilwoman Naeole sent in to the Legislature regarding HB312.

HB312
RELATING TO HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES.
Vog; Sulfur Dioxide Monitoring
Directs the Department of Defense to develop and implement a program to ensure that an adequate number of monitors to detect sulfur dioxide are strategically placed throughout areas of the state where high incidences of vog, sulfur dioxide, or both occur.

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February 7, 2009

Council Member Emily Naeole District 5 Puna

TESTIMONY ON HAWAII HOUSE BILLS 312-318

I have before me, House Bills 312-318 relating to vog and sulphur dioxide that covers highway guardrail replacement, workers safety and compensation and agrarian concerns but is shockingly silent on resident safety, aid and compensation.

Where is the legislation to bring aid and relief to the people of Puna?  Residents on coastal Red Road, the Kalapana-Kapoho Road are closest of all communities to the ocean plumes. During Kona, interchangeable winds, or no-wind conditions, the vog can be intolerable during higher emission periods. also it has been noted that the vog has a tendency to linger in corridors of Highway 130 near the Maku’u Hawaiian Homestead. One can see and smell it.

To make matters worse, on Sunday, 2/01/09, the Hawaii Herald-Tribune, published the latest report from the Hawai’i volcanic Observatory, (HVO), informing us that another deadly ingredient has been added to the vog: Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S), a broad spectrum poison that can poison several different systems in the body, although the nervous system is most affected. The toxicity of H2S is comparable with that of hydrogen cyanide.

In order for this act to be complete I believe that the monitors should monitor H2s emissions too.

We have had a very rough time in the Kehena area in December and January. Everyone I know in Seaview is suffering ill effects of one degree or another. We have had two deaths and much illness in this small neighborhood in the first two months of this year.

According to the Pahoa Fire Chief all procedures come through Civil Defense. At this time the fire station in Pahoa uses the SO2 monitoring device only when “it looks” voggy at the fire station. The fire chief then, and only then, sends out someone to take SO2 readings at C.D. authorized sites. Everyone knows looks can be deceiving when we are talking about poisons in parts per million terms. It should not be left to people at the fire station to guesstimate for an entire district.

This is totally unacceptable. Sometimes the vog is thick in Pahoa but it is very light in the Kehena area, and visa-a-versa. At this time of heavy volcanic emissions, SO2 readings should be taken several times a day in all locations.

Nowhere in Puna Makai is there any place to evacuate to. Emergency shelters can be created quickly by converting designated schools and community center areas to airtight rooms with vinyl velcro windows and portable air filter and air conditioning machines.
Funding is available through FEMA and Homeland Security Grant programs.

The cocoanut wireless is saying that Hawaii is the next Katrina. Is this life threatening situation being allowed to escalate in order to create enough panic to justify the evacuation of the whole island that will then could be turned over to the military/industrial complex? I ask you to consider this testimony when discussing the solution to this problem and very important Act.

I ask that the Legislature take serious thought to include Lower Puna in all of these bills.

Lau lima,
Emily I. Naeole

EIN/rh

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