Whales Sighted at Entrance to Pearl Harbor

On Sunday morning, phone lines in Hawaii buzzed with the news that whales were at the Pearl Harbor entrance.  Joint Base’s Port Operations and Harbor Patrol teams kept Navy vessels at a respectful distance, protecting what turned out to be a cow/calf pair – a mom humpback whale and her calf.

 Photos by Master at Arms Second Class Jadira Viera (Feb. 28, 2016)


Photos by Master at Arms Second Class Jadira Viera (Feb. 28, 2016)

“These whales continue to be protected under both the Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts,” reminds Navy Region Hawaii Environmental Counsel Rebecca Hommon. “Some of these animals winter in Hawaii, mate, give birth and then head back to colder waters such as those off of Alaska to feed during the summer months.”

Photos by Master at Arms Second Class Jadira Viera (Feb. 28, 2016)

Photos by Master at Arms Second Class Jadira Viera (Feb. 28, 2016)

As soon as the whales were observed, the Navy notified the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Marine Mammal Response staff.

NOAA’s David Schofield advised that “It’s probably a normal situation of a mother whale bringing her calf in close to shore.” NOAA officials expressed appreciation for the Navy’s immediate response and knowledge that these marine mammals require a certain stand-off and slow boat traffic.

Whales in Pearl Harbor 3“Humpback whales continue to be protected under the Endangered Species, Marine Mammal Protection, and  National Marine Sanctuaries Acts.  It is unlawful to approach this marine mammal species by any means within 100 yards (90 m) and to operate any aircraft within 1,000 feet (300 m).  If you see a marine mammal in distress (beached, entangled, or otherwise injured) please report the sighting immediately to Pacific Islands Region Marine Mammal Stranding & Entanglement Hotline 888-256-9840.”

Hokulea Reaches the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean

Hokulea just accomplished another monumental touchpoint, as she arrived at Cruz Bay in St. John, US Virgin Islands (USVI) yesterday morning at 11:00 a.m. AST (Sunday, 5:00 a.m. HST). Note: The US Virgin Islands is six hours ahead of Hawaii time. The arrival also marks the canoe’s first landing in a US territory since Hokulea visited Pago Pago in American Samoa in October 2014.

Click to view videos of the arrival.

Click to view videos of the arrival.

“The US Virgin Islands is similar to Hawaii, with its rich history and tropical climate,” said Kalepa Baybayan, captain and Pwo navigator. “Also, much like our home, their economy is significantly driven by tourism and agriculture. We’re looking to engage with the residents to exchange ideas of Mālama Honua, of preservation and cultivation of precious resources.”

While in St. John, the crew of Hokulea plans to engage with the local community by participating in outreach opportunities with the Virgin Islands National Park and the Coral Reef National Monument. The crew members also plan to collaborate with other groups and organizations such as local schools like Sprauve, Gifft Hill, and St. John Christian Academy.

The leg from Brazil to the USVI is a homecoming for Polynesian Voyaging Society Chief Operating Officer and crewmember Heidi Guth, who was born on Maui but raised in the USVI.

“Being able to connect two of my homes and families by having Hokulea visit St. John during the Centennial of the National Park Service and the 60th Anniversary of the Virgin Islands National Park is an unbelievable dream,” said Guth. “I’m also excited about the opportunity to share and exchange ideas on caring for each of coastal homes, our oceans and out Island Earth. We have a common interest in natural and cultural perpetuation,” she added.

While in the Caribbean, Hokulea and her crew also hope to learn more about and highlight environmental efforts such as the Caribbean Challenge, an initiative that focuses on the conservation of biodiversity within the Caribbean’s national protected areas and other areas of environmental significance. The goals of the initiative include effectively conserving and managing at least 20 percent of the Caribbean’s marine and coastal environment by the year 2020, and establishing long-term funding resources for marine, coastal and other environmental resources. Participating countries include Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

From the USVI, Hokulea and her crew will continue the Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage and stop in several ports in the Caribbean before sailing north and visiting cities along the East Coast of the United States. She is scheduled to arrive in New York City by June 8, 2016 to be part of the United Nations’ World Oceans Day.

Since departing Hawaiian waters in May 2014, Hokulea has sailed more than 21,500 nautical miles and made stops in 12 countries and 55 ports, weaving a “Lei of Hope” around the world. Along the way, more than 160 volunteer crewmembers have helped to sail Hokulea accompanied by escort vessel Gershon II to spread the message of malama honua (or taking care of Island Earth) by promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness, as well as exchanging ideas with the countries she has visited. So far, crew members have connected with over 45,000 people in communities across the South Pacific, Tasman Sea and Indian Ocean including Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, Indonesia, Mauritius, South Africa and Brazil. For a midway recap of the Worldwide Voyage, please view http://www.hokulea.com/2015-worldwide-voyage-recap/

Hokulea first set out on the Pacific Ocean in 1975. Since then, she has traveled to multiple countries across the globe, reawakening a Hawaiian cultural renaissance in the process through reviving the traditional art of wayfinding – navigating the sea guided by nature using the ocean swells, stars, and wind.

Heroes in the Fight Against Invasive Species Honored, State Capitol Ceremony Recognizes Extraordinary Efforts

Hawaii’s 4th annual Hawaii Invasive Species Awareness Week (HISAW) wrapped up today with a ceremony in Governor David Ige’s office to recognize people and organizations who’ve been instrumental in the fight against invasive species.

Hawaii Heroes

HISAW is organized in coordination with the U.S. National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) and regional Pacific Invasive Species Awareness efforts. The event promotes information sharing and public engagement in what the Hawaii State Legislature has declared “the single greatest threat to Hawaii’s economy and natural environment and to the health and lifestyle of Hawaii’s people.”

2016 Invasive Species Awards-Media Clips from Hawaii DLNR on Vimeo.

Events included a proclamation from Governor Ige, an awards ceremony, a student video contest, community presentations, and numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the state.

2016 HISAW Awards:

COMMUNITY HERO

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Kay Howe for her dedication to increase public awareness and education on the dangers of rat lungworm disease. Kay has worked tirelessly to research rat lungworm disease and educate the community about the perils of this disease and the invasive nematodes that cause it.

She demonstrated that nematodes can survive for a long time in water, as in catchment tanks, and that they can pass through 2 micron filters, alerting the community to the risk of contracting it from water. Through a recent Go Fund Me campaign “Help Stamp Out Rat Lungworm”, Kay began a program to educate students at five K-12 schools on Hawaii Island. Through education, students can learn how to avoid and prevent rat lungworm disease. The students then become educators for their families and communities on the dangers and prevention of rat lungworm disease.

BUSINESS LEADER

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Young Brothers, LTD. for their Initiative and response to stopping the spread of Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death.

In response to Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death (ROD), Young Brothers showed great initiative by stopping shipments of ‘ōhi’a products from Hawaii Island. These actions showed foresight and understanding to the implications of the statewide spread of ROD. The full affect and extent of their actions may not be known, but in any “outbreak” scenario, rapid response and containment are known to be of extreme importance.

GREATEST HIT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes J.B. Friday, Flint Hughes, and Lisa Keith for their efforts regarding the combat and research of Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death.

This dedicated team of individuals has been working diligently to address Rapid ‘Ōhi’a Death (ROD), have made great efforts to explain and update conservation professionals and the community about this serious issue. Their research of ROD continues to yield more information and identify management challenges that the team is meeting head-on.

HOTTEST PEST REPORT

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Laura Hew for her efforts relating to reporting and stopping the spread of the Giant Day Gecko.

As a proactive community member, Laura promptly reported sightings of the giant day gecko to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA). Her diligent reporting of an invasive pest species clearly demonstrates the success of the 643PEST reporting system, and highlights how the community can personally take actions to protect Hawai’i.

HAWAII COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Judith Houle for her outstanding community efforts and her work controlling invasive species on Hawaii Island.

Judi has worked tirelessly to address invasive species issues plaguing residents of Hawaiian Paradise Park (HPP). Hit hard by fallen Albizia, HPP also suffers from infestations of coqui frogs and little fire ants, impacting the lives of its 12,000 residents. Judi was the first to bring BIISC’s community empowerment program for Albizia control to HPP by working to promote training workshops and support residents in getting the resources they need to address problem trees in their neighborhoods. Judi works on these issues as a volunteer, and commits her own time and money to supporting her community and addressing invasive species that threaten the health and well-being of her neighbors.

MAUI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Dr. James Leary for his efforts relating to controlling the spread and impact of invasive species in Hawai’i.

James Leary is a leader in innovative methods for weed control. Best known for his development of Herbicide Ballistic Technology (HBT) he continues to seek improvements and expand the list of species for which it can be used. In 2015, James organized a county-wide weed workshop on Maui, bringing together more than 50 field staff from conservation organizations to share their successes and offer solutions to identified problems. He supports professional development of staff in conservation organizations and willingly shares his knowledge and expertise with key conservation funders and elected officials. His efforts to streamline and improve HBT application methods resulted in the control of over 3000 Miconia plants in difficult to access areas of East Maui.

OAHU MVP 

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Paul Zweng for his outstanding leadership and cooperation in regards to controlling invasive species on the Island of Oahu.

Paul Zweng has been controlling invasive plant species and restoring native forest at his 1,440-acre property at Waikāne Valley since 2010. Paul has an infectious enthusiasm for habitat restoration; and freely shares his passion with the many volunteers that he coordinates. The Ōhulehule Forest Conservancy, which Paul founded, is an active member of the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership. Paul is also a founding member of the O‘ahu Weed Working Group, an alliance of land management agencies, which aims to increase greater continuity of invasive weed control on the Island of O‘ahu. Paul sets a wonderful example for other landowners to be actively engaged in invasive species control.

KAUAI COUNTY MVP

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council recognizes Trae Menard for his efforts to protect watershed areas and control the spread of invasive species on the island of Kauai.

As part of his role as the Director for Forest Conservation with the Hawaii Nature Conservancy, Trae plays an extremely active role in controlling invasive species in the upper watersheds of Kauai. He also coordinates the Kauai Watershed Alliance and has a successful record of partnering with public and private landowners to achieve large-scale conservation actions. In 2015, Trae utilized new technology from high-resolution imaging and helicopter based plant control to combat the spread of Australian tree fern in the Wainiha Preserve and further protect and restore the Alakai region on Kauai.

Dengue Fever Outbreak Continues – Hookena Beach Park Reopening March 1st

This is a Dengue Fever information update for Friday February 26th at 1:10PM.

The response to the ongoing Dengue Fever outbreak continues.  Although the number and frequency of new confirmed cases appears to be on the decline, the outbreak is not anticipated to be considered over anytime in the near future.  Therefore we need everyone’s help to continue to Fight the Bite.

To prevent mosquito bites, wear clothing that minimizes exposed skin, use mosquito repellent on skin that cannot be covered, and avoid areas of high mosquito concentration during the early morning and late afternoon periods when mosquito activity is greatest.

If you suspect you may have dengue, remain indoors to prevent the possibility of being bitten and infecting mosquitoes, and contact a health care provider. Community health centers are working with the Department of Health to see patients who suspect they may have dengue regardless of ability to pay.

Help to reduce potential mosquito breeding areas around homes and businesses.

As of 1:00PM today the Department of Health reported no additional confirmed cases since yesterday and the total number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the outbreak is at 260. These cases include 235 residents and 25 visitors.

As there have been no confirmed cases associated with the Hookena Beach Park since November 11th and with the actions taken to include numerous sprayings and treatments of the beach park, County and Department of Health Officials will be reopening the park for normal use to include camping effective Tuesday March 1st.

Everyone is reminded that ensuring the safe and enjoyable use of our park facilities depends on everyone’s help and cooperation.  Please use repellent while visiting and enjoying the park and help to keep it clean.  If feeling ill, avoid visiting parks and public areas and remain home to prevent transmission of any communicable diseases.

For additional information on dengue and preventing the spread, go to health.hawaii.gov or call the Department of Health at 974-6001. Everyone’s help and assistance with this outbreak is much needed and appreciated.

Below is a map that depicts case locations as of 2/25/2016.

This map will be updated weekly with location data provided by the State Department of Health. Locations may represent multiple cases. For the most up to date case counts and other information from the Department of Health, visit their website at health.hawaii.gov.

Surveying and spraying is being conducted at the residences of all suspect and confirmed cases, in addition to proactive spraying at nearby public facilities.

Dengue Pinpoint 22616

Updated Map Pinpoints 1 Confirmed Case of Dengue Fever on the Big Island of Hawaii

Only 1 confirmed case of Dengue Fever has been reported on the Big Island since 2/18/16.  Below is a map that depicts case locations as of 2/25/16:

Dengue Pinpoint 22616Surveying and spraying is being conducted at the residences of all suspect and confirmed cases, in addition to proactive spraying at nearby public facilities.

This map should not be used to exclude any areas of the island from proactive mosquito control measures. All residents islandwide are encouraged to Fight The Bite by reducing mosquito breeding grounds and protecting themselves from mosquito bites.

Monday – Puna Legislative Town Hall Meeting

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau) will host a community town hall to provide updates on and discuss the 2016 legislative session.

pahoa town meetingAlso presenting will be Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira, who will address the County’s efforts in combating the dengue fever outbreak.

They will also honor the students and faculty who built a replica of the space shuttle Challenger in honor of Ellison Onizuka and the 30th anniversary of the tragic loss of the space shuttle and its crew.

Ellison Onizuka Kids

The Town Hall Meeting will provide updates on bills along with other issues that may be heard during this session.  Questions, concerns and/or new ideas from those in attendance will be entertained.

  • WHO: Representative Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and Senator Russell Ruderman (Puna, Kau)
  • WHAT: Town Hall Meeting to Discuss the 2016 Legislative Session
  • WHEN: Monday, February 29, 2016, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
  • WHERE: Pahoa Community Center, 15-2910 Puna Road Pahoa, HI, 96778

Former County Council Candidate Edwards Hunt Responds to Voter Fraud Allegation

Former Hawaii County Council Candidate Tiffany Edwards Hunt went before a grand jury yesterday and according to her Twitter feed she says “I was denied the opportunity to testify before a grand jury today, to address these false voter fraud allegations.  I am innocent”.

Tiff Tweet 1She then went on to comment on the way the Prosecuting Attorneys Office is handling her case:
Tiff Tweet2Then ends her twitter rant with a “… bright side…”  tweet:
Tiff Tweet3I can say that if she read the Hawaii Tribune… she would know already who filed the allegations against her… as that has been made public.  I can tell you that my name won’t be showing up in any of those papers… despite what some folks may think.

Senator Kai Kahele Responds to Question of His Residency

I just spoke to Senator Kaiali’i Kahele and his office has sent me the following press release regarding a question of his residency:
Senator Kai Kahele Legislature Profile

In response to a recent inquiry regarding his residency, Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele (Dist. 1 – Hilo), offers this statement:

“I live in the First Senatorial District – Hilo. In 2012, I moved to Hilo and have resided in Hilo continuously from that time. At that time, my parents and I agreed to take out a mortgage to remodel their house to allow me and my family to live there. Since 2012, I have continuously had the residence in Hilo as my primary residence and have used that residence for all purposes, including voter registration.

The question has been raised regarding the agreement I entered into in 2011 with my Aunt, Sally Kahikinaokala Dacalio, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources for a property in Miloli’i.

In 2011, I was approached by extended family with a request to assume my Aunt’s lease for the property in question. My Aunt was in poor health and her family was afraid that the lease would be lost by our family. Under those circumstances, I agreed to pay off my Aunt’s mortgage and assume the lease with DLNR. The matter was handled informally without legal advisors. Since I became aware of the terms of the lease, I have contacted DLNR for the purpose of addressing the situation. I am hopeful and confident that I will be able to resolve this matter with DLNR in the near future.”

Small Earthquake at Summit of Pu’u O’o – Lava Flows Onto Floor of Crater

A small earthquake of magnitude 3.6 occurred yesterday evening at 6 p.m. near the summit of the volcano. Over the past 24 hours, small amounts of lava flowed onto the floor of Puʻu ʻŌʻō.

The summit lava lake on 2/12/16.  Photo via USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The summit lava lake on 2/12/16. Photo via USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (click to enlarge)

Webcam images show that small amounts of lava flowed onto the crater floor from two of the incandescent vents within the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater. Yesterday, shortly before noon, and at around 10 p.m., lava flowed onto the floor from a vent on the east side of the crater, while this morning at around 6 a.m., lava flowed from one of the vents on the west side of the crater.

This current image is from a temporary thermal camera positioned on the northwest flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, looking southeast at Puʻu ʻŌʻō's summit crater.  The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500 degrees (932 degrees Fahrenheit) for this camera model, and scales automatically based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame.  Thick fume, image pixel size and other factors often result in image temperatures being lower than actual surface temperatures.

This current image is from a temporary thermal camera positioned on the northwest flank of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, looking southeast at Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s summit crater. The temperature scale is in degrees Celsius up to a maximum of 500 degrees (932 degrees Fahrenheit) for this camera model, and scales automatically based on the maximum and minimum temperatures within the frame. Thick fume, image pixel size and other factors often result in image temperatures being lower than actual surface temperatures.

Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Picks Big Island Branch Chief

The officer who has been acting as DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE), Hawaii Branch Chief for the past year and a half has been appointed permanently to the position.  DOCARE Chief Thomas Friel said, “It is my honor and privilege to announce the selection of Lino Kamakau as DOCARE’s Hawaii Island Branch Chief, effective immediately.”

DOCAREKamakau is well known and respected by many on Hawaii Island from his 17 years of law enforcement experience there, with a sharp focus on enforcement of natural resources laws.  He began his enforcement career as a Hawaii County police officer, where he served for a decade.  At DOCARE Kamakau served nine years as a Conservation Resource Officer III and then six years as a DOCARE Field Supervisor.  He has served as acting Branch Chief on Hawaii Island since September 2014.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Lino has been deeply engaged in protecting Hawaii literally from mauka to makai.  We are fortunate to have him as a core leader of our DOCARE team.”

BISAC’s Team Inspire Powerlifting Champions

This year’s annual WABDL Sonny Ronolo’s Powerlifting Meet was held at the Edith Kanaka’ole Stadium.  With over 100 participants taking part in the meet and hundreds of spectators, this event showcased some of the best lifters in the world.   The Big Island Substance Abuse Council (BISAC) is no stranger to taking part in events that celebrate the community and promote healthy lifestyles.

Top Row Left to Right: Waiakea High School Coach Moku Pita, Jian Pascual, Isaiah K-Aloha, Va`a Keahi-Broad, Makana Gomez, Coach Toe Preston.   Bottom Row Left to Right: Shayne Kanae, Devin Vance Preston, and Nu`u Aiava.

Top Row Left to Right: Waiakea High School Coach Moku Pita, Jian Pascual, Isaiah K-Aloha, Va`a Keahi-Broad, Makana Gomez, Coach Toe Preston. Bottom Row Left to Right: Shayne Kanae, Devin Vance Preston, and Nu`u Aiava.

 BISAC’s team Inspire consisted of current students and graduates of Waiakea High School and promoted positive alternatives to substance use.   “These young men are an inspiration and provide positive  role modelling to younger individuals who are struggling with addiction” says BISAC’s CEO, Dr. Hannah Preston-Pita.  “When we are able to show the younger generation that they can do it by engaging in healthy activities like this it gives them hope.”

By the end of the meet, Team Inspire’s small team was able to leave a positive impression, by securing 2nd place in the team category, receiving (11) first place trophies, (5) state records, and (1) world record.

 Since 1964, BISAC has been inspiring individuals and families to reclaim and enrich their lives in the wake of the ravages of substance abuse.  They offer a continuum of services that are culturally appropriate and aligned with the ever-changing behavioral health field.

For more information about BISAC and all of its programs call 969-9994 or visit www.bisac.org.

Red Hill Update – NAVY Says Water Remains Safe to Drink

Last week, Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, sent another Red Hill “stakeholder letter” to business and community leaders and elected officials. Fuller shared the latest information about the fuel storage facility and how the Navy is keeping drinking water safe.

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, left of right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit to one of the fuel tanks at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where leaders and subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, left of right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit to one of the fuel tanks at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where leaders and subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

The letter is a means for keeping communication lines open, providing details about ongoing improvements, and thanking public officials and the community for support to the military and its mission in Hawaii.

Fuller’s letter opens with a note of appreciation.

“Before I discuss Red Hill, I feel honored to thank you for your heartfelt expressions of aloha and continued support to the families, friends and colleagues of the 12 Marines who recently lost their lives during night training off of Oahu.”

Regarding new information about advancements in and around Red Hill:

“I am pleased to report that on December 4, 2015, staff from the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), and Region IX of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded a week of face-to-face, in-depth meetings in accordance with the Administrative Order on Consent signed on September 28, 2015.”

Fuller noted, “These initial scoping meetings met our objectives.  The participants organized into groups to address specific sections of the statement of work within the order including:  tank inspection, repair and maintenance procedures report; tank upgrade alternatives report; corrosion and metal fatigue practices report; and the groundwater flow model and contaminant fate and transport report.  We are pleased with the outcome of these discussions.”

Regulatory agencies approved outlines for reports on fuel release monitoring systems and corrosion and metal fatigue practices.

The Navy is working closely with stakeholders. The team expects to complete the scoping work for tank inspection, repair, and maintenance procedures, and for tank upgrade alternatives, by the end of March.  Draft reports for release detection/tank tightness testing and corrosion and metal fatigue practices are due in April.

The Navy uses ten groundwater sampling locations now and plans to install four additional groundwater monitoring wells to “improve our ability to assess and predict the potential migration of subsurface fuel constituents.”

Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Lovgren, fuel director at Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor‐Hickam. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Lovgren, fuel director at Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor‐Hickam. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Fuller noted, “The Navy continues to monitor the quality of the drinking water sources closest to the Red Hill facility and share that data with EPA and DOH.  As I mentioned in my November 2015 letter, over the years, we intermittently detected trace amounts of fuel constituents adjacent to the Navy’s Red Hill drinking water shaft . at barely detectable levels.  The other important facts about our trace detections are that these levels are far below DOH Environmental Action Levels (EAL), and most importantly, these levels pose no risk to human health.”

He added, “Most recently, in July 2015, we detected trace amounts of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (a fuel constituent) at an estimated value of 17 parts per billion, well below the EAL of 100 parts per billion. Our EPA-certified lab had to estimate the amount because the detection level was too low to accurately quantify.”

The drinking water near Red Hill is safe and has been safe through 70 years of operation.

“The water was and continues to be safe to drink,” Fuller said.  “Moving from today and looking into the future, the Navy will continue to perform diligent and careful water quality analyses on our water.  We will continue to submit water test results to DOH, and will promptly inform DOH, EPA and the public if there is ever any risk to the safety of the drinking water.”

Fuller concluded his letter with another note of appreciation to the community:

“Thank you for your continued support to our military and our mission in Hawaii.  Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any concerns regarding Red Hill or our progress.  I encourage you to review the Navy’s website on Red Hill and suggest that you subscribe to EPA’s website.  You can find those sites at www.cnic.navy.mil/redhill and www.epa.gov/region9/waste/ust/redhill/index.html.”

Hu Honua Filing to PUC Addresses HELCO Misstatements

Hu Honua Bioenergy (HHB) filed its response with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to provide a project update as well as address incomplete and misleading information in Hawaii Electric Light Company’s (HELCO) Status Report.
Hu Honua

The Status Report was required by the PUC in light of missed milestone schedule dates in the HHB power purchase agreement (PPA) approved by the PUC in December 2013.

In its filing, Hu Honua expressed disappointment with HELCO over not processing its milestone date extension request submitted more than 12 months ago. HHB requested the extension following a variety of disputes with its former contractor that disrupted the project’s construction schedule, and to provide the replacement contractor sufficient time to complete the biomass-fueled, renewable energy facility in Pepeepeko on Hawaii Island.

At HELCO’s urging, Hu Honua submitted a proposal to reduce the energy price in its PPA to 14 cents for energy purchased above the 10-megawatt (MW) minimum level for economic dispatch. Even with the price reduction, HELCO did not process Hu Honua’s milestone date extension requests, despite the fact Hu Honua’s pricing is delinked from the cost of fossil fuel, making it a natural hedge against future increases in oil prices.

HHB has invested $100 million to date in the biomass-to-energy project, which is approximately 50 percent complete. HHB has arranged full financing from its investor base and the plant can be operational in approximately 12-16 months.

At completion, the plant will be able to supply Big Island residents with firm, baseload, dispatchable renewable power at reasonable pricing, complementing intermittent resources such as wind and solar, and helping the state meet mandated clean energy goals.

In its filing, HHB asserts the value of the plant today to Hawaii Island’s electricity system is as great or greater than December 2013 when the PUC approved the HHB PPA.

HELCO’s threat to terminate Hu Honua’s PPA as a result of missed milestones was announced just days before parts of Hawaii Island experienced blackouts due to insufficient firm generating capacity; firm, reliable power is what Hu Honua’s bioenergy plant would provide.

Hu Honua’s filing to the PUC addressed incomplete and misleading statements in HELCO’s Status Report, including:

“Hu Honua does not have the ability to achieve commercial operation in the near future.”

  • Hu Honua has fully committed financing up to $125 million to complete the project, with $20 million having been invested since November 2015.

“Hu Honua failed to meet PPA obligations.”

  • HELCO’s statement appears to refer to the boiler hydro test date. Unlike solar and wind projects, Hawaii law requires high pressure/high temperature steam boiler projects to follow rigorous inspection, approval and documentation protocol throughout construction before successive work can begin. As a result of disputes with its former contractor, HHB did not have ready access to prior documentation needed to perform successive work, which resulted in disruption and delays to schedule.

“Hu Honua failed to justify a milestones extension.”

  • As early as October 2014, HHB alerted HELCO that its milestone dates could be delayed because of certain factors beyond its control, including the circumstances underlying the dispute with its former contractor.

  • In January 2015, well in advance of project milestone dates, HHB approached HELCO to proactively discuss revised milestones dates in light of circumstances. Throughout discussions over revised milestones, HELCO reported a need for pricing reductions as an exchange for milestone date relief. HHB revised pricing arrangements on three separate occasions—February, April and May 2015.


Hu Honua looks forward to working with HELCO and the PUC to resolve its milestone date extension request, along with HHB’s proposal to reduce the energy price in its PPA to 14 cents for amounts purchased above the 10-MW minimum threshold for economic dispatch.

A completed Hu Honua power plant will provide a modern, renewable, biomass fueled source of electricity that will complement Hawaii Island’s electrical system as well as provide between 100-150 jobs for the local community.

Hawaii Department of Health Takes Critical Role in National Efforts to Control Zika Virus

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) State Laboratories Division is taking an active role in national efforts to control the spread of Zika Virus. Hawaii’s State Laboratories recently provided confirmatory testing for samples from American Samoa and the Marshall Islands to support these U. S. Affiliated Pacific Island Jurisdictions in verifying disease outbreak activity.

A mosquito laying eggs

A mosquito laying eggs

“Hawaii is fortunate to have an experienced and capable public health laboratory that can serve our state with timely and quality testing under emergency conditions,” said Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “That same capability is not available in many other areas of the Pacific, and providing lab support to these areas, when we can, is critical to controlling the spread of diseases and reducing the risk of introduction to Hawaii.”

“With Zika emerging in U.S. island territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, the nation is on alert,” said Dr. Thane Hancock, team leader for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) American Samoa Zika Response.

The timely response by the Hawaii Department of Health’s State Laboratories staff provided critical support for local disease investigations and for monitoring potentially exposed pregnant women.”

This month, DOH began using the CDC developed real-time reverse transcriptase (rRT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for Zika virus. With this recently developed capability, DOH provided officials in American Samoa and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (Majuro), the first laboratory evidence of Zika transmission in these two U.S. affiliated jurisdictions.

“It’s always a balance to ensure our state needs are met first, but the staff here is more than willing to step up to support national efforts,” said State Laboratories Director Dr. Christian Whelen. “This work helps to better prepare us for potential issues that could arise in our state, and identifying and controlling outbreaks in the Pacific benefits all of us.”

While PCR is the best test during early onset of symptoms, testing for antibody to the viruses is preferred after about a week of illness. CDC is shipping antibody test materials to Hawaii so that the department’s State Laboratories Division can establish these capabilities over the next few weeks.

“The testing is very similar to the methodology our labs use for other RNA viruses such as Chikungunya, dengue, influenza, and measles,” added Whelen. “Our laboratory staff have been thoroughly trained to safely work with high risk specimens.”

DOH continues to work with the healthcare community, state, county, and federal officials to prepare for infectious diseases that threaten Hawaii and the Pacific. The State Laboratories Division administers a statewide laboratories program which conducts and regulates scientific analysis in support of environmental quality, health and safety, and infectious disease monitoring and control activities.

Updated Map Shows Risk Areas for Potential Dengue Infection

An updated map of potential areas of infection by mosquito for confirmed dengue fever cases has been released:
Dengue Risk 22416Of the confirmed cases, 235 are Hawaii Island residents and 25 are visitors.
214 cases have been adults; 46 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 2/13/16.

As of today, a total of 1313 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

Confirmed Dengue Fever Cases on the Big Island of Hawaii Rises to 260

The Dengue Fever outbreak on the Big Island continues and the total confirmed amount of cases rose by 1 more since the last update bringing the total amount of confirmed cases to 260:

Mosquito Bite

As of February 24, 2016*:

Since the last update, HDOH has identified 1 new case of dengue fever.  Currently, as many as 0 of the confirmed cases to date are potentially infectious to mosquitoes. All others are no longer infectious.

Potentially infectious individuals
0
Cases no longer infectious
260 Illness onset 9/11/15 to 2/13/16
Past and present confirmed cases (Cumulative TOTAL)
260

Of the confirmed cases, 235 are Hawaii Island residents and 25 are visitors.
214 cases have been adults; 46 have been children (<18 years of age). Onset of illness has ranged between 9/11/15 – 2/13/16.

As of today, a total of 1313 reported potential cases have been excluded based on test results and/or not meeting case criteria.

Three Big Island UPS Drivers Recognized for Accident-Free Driving

UPS today announced that three elite drivers from the Big Island of Hawaii, Glen Muraki (Kamuela), Brian Taketa (Kealakekua) and Myron Yamaguchi (Holualoa) are among 1,613 newly inducted worldwide into the Circle of Honor, an honorary organization for UPS drivers who have achieved 25 or more years of accident-free driving.

UPS Patch

Hawaii boasts 11 active Circle of Honor drivers with a combined 296 years of accident-free driving. Dean Agustin of Lihue and Malcolm Toyama of Honolulu are Hawaii’s senior-most safe drivers, with 31 years of accident-free driving. There are 177 total UPS drivers in Hawaii.

Globally, 8,703 active UPS drivers are members of the Circle of Honor.  Collectively they’ve racked up more than 245,000 years and more than 5.3 billion safe miles during their careers. That’s enough miles to travel to Mars and back 19 times.

“My thanks go to all of them for their dedication and focus and for the countless lives they’ve saved,” said Tom Cuce, president, UPS South California District. “Their attention to detail has kept them safe and has helped improve public safety.”

Globally, the most seasoned UPS Circle of Honor driver is Thomas Camp of Livonia, Mich., with 53 years of driving without an accident. Ronald McKnight of Bronx, N.Y., is next in line with 47 years of safe driving. Sixty-six others have logged at least 40 years without an accident.

UPS’s 102,000 drivers are among the safest on the roads, logging more than 3 billion miles a year and delivering more than 4 billion packages safely.

Founded in 1907, UPS has a rich history of safety and training.  The company issued its first driver handbook in 1917 and began recognizing safe drivers in 1923.  In 1928, UPS recognized its first five-year safe driver, Ray McCue, with UPS founder Jim Casey presenting him a gold and platinum watch. UPS formally established its safe driving honor program in 1928.

Navy in Hawaii Wins Two Environmental Awards from Chief of Naval Operations

Two Hawaii-based Navy commands were winners of Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Awards, it was announced yesterday, Feb. 22, in Washington D.C.

Pacific Missile Range Facility

Pacific Missile Range Facility

The Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), Barking Sands, on Kauai won the award for Natural Resources Conservation for small naval installations (along with Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan).

(March 30, 2014) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) flies the U.S. Navy battle ensign while performing maneuvers off the coast of Hawaii. The ship was named for the late Senator John H. Chafee, former Secretary of the Navy and decorated veteran of the Marine Corp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan/Released)

(March 30, 2014) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) flies the U.S. Navy battle ensign while performing maneuvers off the coast of Hawaii. The ship was named for the late Senator John H. Chafee, former Secretary of the Navy and decorated veteran of the Marine Corp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Diana Quinlan/Released)

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, was selected as the Navy’s top surface combatant ship for the CNO environmental award.

Vice Adm. P. H. Cullom

Vice Adm. P. H. Cullom

In a message of congratulations, Vice Adm. P. H. Cullom, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Fleet Readiness and Logistics, said, “I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to all of the fiscal year 2015 Environmental Award winners. Your efforts not only embody the environmental stewardship ethic, but also aid in fulfilling the Navy’s national security mission. I applaud all of the nominees for their tireless commitment to preserving resources and bettering the environment. Bravo Zulu!”

Working with federal and state agencies, schools, conservation organizations, the public and host community, PMRF implemented numerous groundbreaking initiatives toward conservation, environmental protection and protection of endangered species. For example, under the Laysan Albatross Conservation program, PMRF transferred eggs to Campbell National Wildlife refuge on Oahu to provide new shelter for the birds and reduce the risk of aircraft strikes.  The “Dark Sky” initiative, which directed the turning off of all non-essential exterior lighting on PMRF during the Newell Shearwater, Hawaiian and Band-Rumped Storm Petrel migration season, reduced “fallout” by these endangered birds that are naturally attracted to light.

“The Ohana (family) here at Pacific Missile Range Facility is simply awesome and they truly deserve all the recognition.  I couldn’t be more proud of the daily efforts put forth by each and every member of our team,” said Capt. Bruce Hay, Commanding Officer of PMRF.

In the past year USS Chafee transited more than 37,000 miles on a seven-month deployment to the 3rd, 4th, and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility while participating in the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative, Talisman Sabre 15, UNITAS PAC 15, and UNITAS LANT 15.  USS Chafee conducted all operations with no impact to marine mammals and with safe and clean refueling operations.

Environmental protection and energy conservation were at the forefront of operations, according to Cmdr. Shea Thompson, commanding officer of USS Chafee.

“We’re all thrilled to have been selected for this award. We strive for efficiency in all aspects of our war fighting operations and to be good stewards of our environment,” said Thompson.

All CNO winners will go on to the Secretary of the Navy level of competition.

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy to Participate in the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s 3rd Annual “Hawaii on the Hill” Initiative in Washington D.C.

More Than 50 Hawaii Organizations to Participate in the Two-Day Agenda, June 7-8, 2016

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy will be entertaining, with his Poke recipes, culinary skills and joyful manner, some 1000+ distinguished guests that are anticipated to attend the 3rd Annual Taste of Hawaii event as part of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s “Hawaii on the Hill” initiative in partnership with Senator Mazie Hirono.

Sam Choy will be featured in Washington DC. Photo by Douglas Peebles Photography

Celebrity Chef Sam Choy will be entertaining guests in Washington D.C. at the “Hawaii on the Hill” event. Photo by Douglas Peebles Photography

“Sam Choy is a pioneer of Pacific Rim cuisine, and I’m excited to have him as part of our 3rd annual Hawaii on the Hill hosted in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. For decades, Chef Choy has been committed to sharing the culture of our state through its food, and is the latest local celebrity to participate in Hawaii on the Hill, joining Willie K, Amy Hanaialii, and Aidan James. Hawaii on the Hill has grown to be one of the most anticipated state showcase events because of participants like Chef Choy and Tiki Shark Art, who truly bring a slice of the Aloha State to Washington, D.C.,” commented Senator Mazie K. Hirono.

Mazie Hirono with Abbas Hassan and Brad "Tiki Shark" Parker

Sen. Mazie Hirono with Abbas Hassan and Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker

“It was an honor for me to get a direct invite from the Senator to attend this event. My cell phone rang and it was Mazie Hirono on the other line…wow!” he exclaimed. “I am so pleased to see that Poke, a true Hawaiian food, is making its way to the mainland in a big way,” he added.

“The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii is very excited and pleased to welcome Chef Sam Choy to this year’s Hawaii on the Hill initiative and, particularly, our Taste of Hawaii on the Hill event, which has grown to over 1,000 attendees,” said Chamber President & CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “Having Chef Choy represent the Aloha State with Tiki Shark Art will add even more stature and a colorful dimension to our line-up of participants. This will be our third year in a row to lead this effort, in partnership with Senator Mazie Hirono and her team, and we’re looking forward to sharing Hawaii’s food, culture, and industries with our nation’s leaders, and other officials and representatives, again.”

More than 50 organizations from Hawaii are participating in the Taste of Hawaii representing made-in-Hawaii products and the tourism, agriculture, innovation and technology, manufacturing and military industries. The Taste of Hawaii is one of several events slated for the two-day Hawaii on the Hill agenda, which also includes a “Talk Story” hosted by Senator Hirono and a Policy Summit with Congressional committee members and other officials.

This year’s Hawaii on the Hill will take place June 7-8. For additional information, please contact Lori Abe with the Chamber at email: labe@cochawaii.org or by calling (808) 380-2605.

Coast Guard Searching for Owner of Found Kayak Near Kahaluu Beach Park

The Coast Guard is searching for the owner or operator of an unmanned adrift black kayak found one mile offshore of Kahaluu Beach Park, on the Big Island, Tuesday.

The Coast Guard is searching for the owner or operator of an unmanned adrift black kayak found 1 mile offshore of Kahaluu Beach Park, on the Big Island, Feb. 23, 2016. Anyone with information that may help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

The Coast Guard is searching for the owner or operator of an unmanned adrift black kayak found 1 mile offshore of Kahaluu Beach Park, on the Big Island, Feb. 23, 2016. Anyone with information that may help identify the owner of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Released)

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point is currently searching for a possible person in the water.

Anyone with information that may help identify the owner or operator of the kayak is asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600.

Watchstanders at the Sector Honolulu Command Center received a report at 10:40 a.m., from a good Samaritan stating they had recovered a black kayak in the vicinity of Keauhou Bay near Kahaluu Beach Park.

Sector Honolulu issued an urgent marine information broadcast notice to mariners and launched the Dolphin crew. There are currently no reported signs of distress or missing persons in the area.

“The Coast Guard encourages ocean goers to always file a float plan and leave it with a reliable person who can be depended upon to notify the Coast Guard, or other rescue agency, should you not return or check‐in as planned,” said Lt. Nicholas Spence, a command duty officer at Sector Honolulu. “In addition, it’s important to label your watercraft with contact information so that if found adrift, we can help identify the owner and determine whether or not that person is in distress.”

The Coast Guard offers free “If Found” decals to be placed in a visible location on small, human-powered watercraft through the Operation Paddle Smart program.  The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action. Positive identification may also allow the item to be returned to the owner.

The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, through the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.