Coast Guard Opens All Hawaii Ports – Investigation Under Way on Spirit of Kona Tour Boat

Coast Guard Captain of the Port opened all commercial ports in the Hawaiian Islands and cargo operations have resumed, Monday.

Tropical Storm Darby is expected to continue to move west and degrade. Vessel and facility operators are recommended to exercise caution when maneuvering in the ports as there may be fields of debris present.

Representatives from Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, Department of Natural Resources, Hawaii Division of Boating and Recreation, commercial salvors and the owner of the vessel continue to address the grounding of the Spirit of Kona on Hawai’i Island.
Spirit of Kona

Coast Guard Sector Honolulu watch standers received notification Sunday morning from a good Samaritan reporting the 65-foot Spirit of Kona, a commercial passenger vessel, aground on the rocks near the Kailua-Kona Lighthouse. The vessel reportedly broke free of its mooring in Kailua Bay as Tropical Storm Darby passed over the region early Sunday. No one was aboard the vessel at the time.

Kona Boat

A non-recoverable sheen was seen in the area. The vessel reportedly has a maximum pollution potential of 600 gallons of diesel fuel aboard, commercial batteries and 19.5 gallons of hydraulic and lube oils. As the Spirit of Kona is a commercial vessel, operated by Blue Sea Cruises, the Coast Guard is investigating the cause the of the grounding. A notice of federal interest has been issued.

As a reminder, the public and visitors to Hawaii should heed all warnings from lifeguards and public health and safety officials. Although weather conditions may appear favorable, rip tides and high surf may continue to impact beaches as the storm degrades. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Near-shore waters may become contaminated due to runoff up to several days following a storm.

Ku’uali’i Fishpond Wall Repair and Construction Creates Temporary Closure of Public Parking Lot

In order to replace the rock walls at Ku‘uali‘i fishpond, irreparably damaged during the 2011 tsunami, Waikoloa Beach Association announced a temporary closure of the public parking lot, and a portion of the beach, at ‘Anaeho‘omalu Bay. Signs informing beachgoers have been posted on the site.

Waikoloa Wall
The repair project, a complete re-build of the rock wall fronting the fishpond, is set to begin in early August, and its duration is approximately 8-10 weeks. During this time, temporary public beach parking and beach access will be provided at the North Kolea beach parking lot (see map). Parking will be on a first come-first served basis with parking for no more than 46 vehicles available at any one time. No overflow area is provided.

At ‘Anaeho‘omalu, the comfort stations near the showers and canoe hale will be open for beach-goers, and can be accessed from the north end of the beach, via the trail behind the fishpond. For public safety, the ocean side of the fishpond will remain closed during the project. For employees and patrons of Lava Lava Beach Club, controlled access will be provided via the normal Ku‘uali‘i Place beach public access roadway.

Waikoloa Beach Association plans to reopen the large parking lot at Anaeho‘omalu when the repair project is completed.

Blue Jay Wireless to Pay $2Million, Ending Investigation Into Its Tribal Lifeline Reimbursements in Hawaii

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau announced that it has reached a settlement with Blue Jay Wireless to resolve an investigation into whether the company improperly enrolled several thousand Hawaiian customers as eligible for enhanced Tribal support reimbursements from the FCC’s Lifeline program.

blue jay

The Lifeline program provides a discount on phone service so that low-income consumers have access to the communications tools necessary to connect with jobs, family, and emergency services.

Qualifying low-income consumers who reside on Tribal lands, which include Hawaiian Home Lands in the State of Hawaii, are eligible for higher support from the Lifeline program (up to an additional $25 per month).

Under the settlement, Blue Jay will reimburse the Universal Service Fund approximately $2 million and adopt substantial compliance procedures. “The Lifeline program is vital to millions of consumers in cities, rural areas, and tribal lands who rely upon it every day to connect with loved ones, interview for jobs, and contact emergency services,” said Enforcement Bureau Chief Travis LeBlanc. “This settlement makes clear that no Lifeline provider should turn a blind eye to potential fraud on the program.”

The Enforcement Bureau’s Universal Service Fund Strike Force conducted the investigation of  Blue Jay, which is headquartered in Texas and is eligible to participate in Lifeline in 17 states and Puerto Rico. The investigation found that Blue Jay had incorrectly requested and received Lifeline Tribal reimbursements for enrolled consumers who did not reside on Hawaiian Home Lands.

In 2014, Hawaii Public Utilities Commission staff informed Blue Jay that the number of Tribal consumers it was claiming appeared to exceed the number of households on Hawaiian Home Lands. Despite knowing that Blue Jay could be improperly claiming enhanced Tribal support reimbursements, Blue Jay continued to seek reimbursement for those improper consumers while it sought to gather more accurate information about its Hawaiian Home Lands Tribal consumers.

This settlement ensures a total of $2,002,000 in reimbursements by Blue Jay to the Universal Service Fund, including the company’s forfeiture of $918,010 in Lifeline disbursements that the Commission has already frozen. Blue Jay also will develop and implement a compliance plan to ensure appropriate procedures are incorporated into its business practices to prevent the enrollment of ineligible Tribal consumers, including the use of an approved software tool to identify and verify the accuracy of consumers’ self-certification of their residency on Tribal Lands.

Last year, the Commission sought public comment on whether to require additional evidence of \residency on Tribal lands beyond self-certification and how carriers should provide proof of eligibility to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of enhanced support. More information can be found here: http://go.usa.gov/xcHNT.

This is the second Lifeline enforcement action this year. In April, the Commission announced that it planned to fine Total Call Mobile $51 million for apparently enrolling tens of thousands of ineligible and duplicate consumers in the Lifeline program. A copy of the Total Call Mobile Notice of Apparent Liability can be found here: http://go.usa.gov/xcH5R.

 

Hawaii Governor Attending Democratic National Convention

Gov. David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige are scheduled to  participate in the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania next week.

Rep. Joy SanBuenventura posted this photo on Facebook with the following comment, "The DNC opening reception far from protests. before tomorrow's opening gavel...so far everybody is happy but well see what happens tomorrow. #DNC2016 #HIDEMS #joy4puna"

Rep. Joy SanBuenventura posted this photo on Facebook with the following comment, “The DNC opening reception far from protests. before tomorrow’s opening gavel…so far everybody is happy but well see what happens tomorrow. #DNC2016 #HIDEMS #joy4puna”

As governor, Ige is a superdelegate with Hawai‘i’s Democratic Party. Elected delegates and superdelegates from Hawai‘i and across the country will be attending the Democratic National Convention starting Monday, July 25 through July 28.

Gov. Ige is receiving regular updates on Tropical Storm Darby and has the flexibility to return to Hawai‘i if necessary.

He is currently scheduled to return to Hawai‘i on July 29.

No state funds are being used for this trip.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui serves as acting governor while Gov. Ige is out of state.

Lava Now 0.2 Miles from Ocean

Activity Summary: Eruptive activity continues at Kīlauea Volcano’s summit and East Rift Zone. The 61G lava flow extending southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō towards the ocean remains active but poses no threat to nearby communities. As of yesterday, the flow tip was about ~370 m (0.2 miles) from the ocean. The lava lake at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater continues to circulate and intermittently spatter. Seismicity and deformation rates throughout the volcano remain at background levels.
hvo 725 g61
Summit Observations: The lava lake within the Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook crater remains active. The depth to the lake was estimated at 26 m (85 ft) below the crater rim, measured on Sunday. Tiltmeters at Kīlauea’s summit recorded a slight inflationary tilt. Seismicity is within normal, background rates with tremor fluctuations associated with lava lake spattering. The summit sulfur dioxide emission rate ranged from 3,700 to 7,300 metric tons/day.

Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: Webcam images over the past 24 hours show persistent glow at long-term sources within the crater. There were no significant changes in seismicity over the past 24 hours. The tilt still recovering due to heavy rainfall over the weekend. The sulfur dioxide emission rate from all East Rift Zone vents on July 22 was about 500 metric tons/day.

Lava Flow Observations: The 61G lava flow extending southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō towards the coastal plain on Kīlauea’s south flank remains active. On Sunday, the flow tip was active and breakouts were active within a few hundred meters (yards) upslope. The flow was approximately ~240 m (0.15 miles) from the coastal emergency road and 370 m (0.2 miles) from the ocean; based on National Park personnel observations. Areas of incandescence remain visible in overnight webcam views of the active lava flow field, marking lava tube skylights and areas of active lava on the pali and along the flow as it extends towards the coast.