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EPA Fines Oahu Farm for Pesticide and Worker Protection Violations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Wonder Farm, Inc. over alleged misuse of pesticides and violations of worker safety regulations at its basil farm in Waianae, Oahu. Under the agreement, the company will pay a $26,700 penalty.“Reducing pesticide exposure is a high priority for EPA. With our state partners, we’re focused on protecting agricultural workers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “All agriculture companies must follow pesticide label instructions and ensure their workers are trained properly to use, apply and work in treated areas.”

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) discovered the violations during inspections conducted between 2012 and 2015, and referred the case to EPA. Inspectors found the company out of compliance with EPA’s Worker Protection Standard, which aims to reduce the risk of pesticide poisoning and injury among agricultural workers and pesticide handlers.

The investigation found the company had failed to:

  • Provide workers with information necessary for their safety regarding pesticide applications, including the location of the treated area, the product used, active ingredients, time of application, and any restrictions to entry.
  • Ensure that its workers and handlers had received pesticide safety training.
  • Post pesticide safety information in a central location after pesticides had been applied.
  • Ensure handlers used the required protective clothing, such as waterproof gloves and eyewear.

Inspectors also found Wonder Farm had applied several pesticide products containing the active ingredients malathion, carbaryl, and dimethoate to its basil crops. Those active ingredients are not authorized for use on basil. In addition, Wonder Farm failed to follow pesticide label instructions that set the approved application and frequency rate on crops, failed to properly clean leftover, non-refillable pesticide containers, and improperly used pesticides for cleaning spray tanks. EPA regulations for pesticide labels ensure they contain critical information about how to safely and legally handle and use the pesticide products.

For information on pesticide the pesticide Worker Protection Standard, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/agricultural-worker-protection-standard-wps

For more information on pesticide labels, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-labels/introduction-pesticide-labels

Rep. Gabbard and Senator Sanders Introduce “Raise the Wage Act”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-02) stood with Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate to introduce the Raise the Wage Act today.

The legislation would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and index the minimum wage to the median wage growth thereafter. It has been 10 years since legislation was enacted increasing the federal minimum wage. When adjusted for inflation, about 40 percent of today’s workers earn less than the minimum wage in 1968. The Raise the Wage Act would give more than 41 million low-wage workers a raise, increasing the wages of almost 30 percent of the U.S. workforce.

“In my home state of Hawaiʻi, and across the country, far too many people are working one or two full-time minimum wage jobs, living in poverty, and barely scraping by. The federal minimum wage has fallen far behind inflation and has actually lost value over time, meaning working families are making less while paying more just to make ends meet. The federal minimum wage has stagnated for the last 10 years—it is long overdue for Congress to do the right thing for hard-working Americans and raise the minimum wage,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has supported legislation to raise the federal minimum wage throughout her time in Congress, and is an original cosponsor of the legislation introduced today to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She has also cosponsored legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.1869) to address wage discrimination across the United States.

Hawaii Ranked 5th Highest in Nation for Medical Marijuana Program

Hawaii Department of Health has received a “B” and ranked the fifth highest in the nation for its medical marijuana program, based on a recent report card of new, regulated medical marijuana distribution programs issued by Americans for Safe Access (ASA).

The national organization’s mission is to reduce barriers to medical cannabis by creating policies to improve access for patients and researchers, using legislation, education, litigation, research and other means.
According to the report card, “Hawaii is on track to become one of the best programs in the country if they continue with their timely implementation.”

The grades ranged from B+ to F-. Hawaii’s “B” grade was based on 430 points out of a total 500, earning a score of 86 percent. The highest grade of “B+” was awarded to Illinois, with 449 points and an overall score of 89.9 percent

The report used a point system to grade the medical marijuana programs in 44 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories Guam and Puerto Rico, based on five criteria:

  1.  Patients’ rights and protection from discrimination
  2. Access to medicine
  3. Ease of navigation
  4. Functionality
  5. Product safety protocols

The complete report can be viewed at: http://www.safeaccessnow.org/medical_marijuana_access_in_the_usa

 

“Hands Off” of Moi From June Through August

A fish with a lot of “fingers” will be hands-off starting June 1.  The season for moi, or Pacific threadfin, will be closed from June through August in Hawaii waters.

Moi is the only fish in Hawai‘i belonging to the genus Polydactylus, which is Greek for “many fingers.”  The “fingers” are actually six filaments extending from the base of each pectoral fin.  It is also one of the relatively few Hawaiian fishes to undergo sex reversal, changing from male to female by the time it reaches about 10 inches in length.

“Moi is one of Hawai‘i’s most significant fish species, from a cultural perspective,” said Bruce Anderson, administrator, Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources.  “In ancient times it was reserved only for chiefs; commoners were forbidden to eat it.  But if moi suddenly appeared in large numbers, chiefs considered it an omen of disaster.”

“Today we still value it as one of our most sought-after reef fishes,” he continued.  “The closed season helps sustain moi populations by protecting them during their critical summer spawning period.  We ask for the fishing public’s kokua in complying with the closed season, and protecting our ocean resources.”

Early Hawaiians also placed a kapu or prohibition on certain fish during their spawning season as a conservation measure.

During the open season – September through May – the minimum size for moi is 11 inches, and the bag limit for possession and/or sale is 15. However, a commercial marine dealer may possess and sell more than 15 moi during the open season with receipts issued for the purchase.

Copies of Hawai‘i’s fishing regulations are available at DLNR’s Aquatic Resources offices, most fishing supply stores, and online at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dar/fishing/fishing-regulations/

To report fishing violations, call 643-DLNR (3567).

Hawaii Mumps Outbreak Continues – Three New Cases Reported Today

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) today confirmed three (3) additional cases of Oahu residents with mumps, bringing the total number of cases in 2017 to 58. The recently confirmed cases involve two (2) children and one (1) adult. All three of the new cases are linked to previously confirmed cases on Oahu. None of the individuals required hospitalization and no schools were affected.

The department expects to see more cases of mumps in Hawaii as the viral disease is highly contagious and circulating on Oahu.The classic mumps symptom of parotitis often results in a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Some people with mumps have very mild or no symptoms. The disease is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The disease can also be spread by sharing items, such as cups or eating utensils, or by touching contaminated objects or surfaces and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, and prevents most cases of mumps. Two doses of the vaccine are 88 percent effective at protecting against mumps and one dose is 78 percent effective. Being fully vaccinated can help protect loved ones, family members, friends, classmates and coworkers.

MMR vaccine is available at local pharmacies across the state. To locate a vaccinating pharmacy in your community, visit http://health.hawaii.gov/…/vaccines-immun…/vaccine-locators/ or call the Aloha United Way information and referral line at 2-1-1.

Additional information about mumps and the ongoing investigation can be found on the DOH website at http://health.hawaii.gov/docd/department-of-health-investigating-mumps-cases/

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 59-Year-Old Honomu Man

Hawaiʻi Island police are renewing their request for the public’s help in searching for a 59-year-old Honomū man who was reported missing on (March 20).

Glenn S. Oyama

Glenn S. Oyama was last seen in Hilo on March 19 at about 11:30 p.m. He has a condition that requires medication.

He is described as Japanese, 5-foot-7, 190 pounds, with black/gray hair, and brown eyes. Police located Oyama’s unattended Toyota Camry along Highway 19 in the area of the Kolekole Bridge on the morning of March 21.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or Detective Tuckloy Aurello at (808) 961-2385 or via email at Tuckloy.Aurello@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 32-Year-Old Woman

Big Island Police are looking for Crystal Lemaster, Female age 32, 4’11 approximately 140 lbs with brown eyes and a partially shaved head, last seen wearing red plaid clothing.

Crystal Lemaster

She was last seen in Kurtistown, Puna district

Big Island Police Searching for Missing 55-Year-Old Pahoa Man

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 55-year-old Pāhoa male who was reported missing.

Andrew Brown

Andre Brown was last seen at Hilo District Court on 07-28-2014 .

He is described as an African-American 5-foot-6, 160 pounds, with black hair, brown eyes, and with tattoos of “DRE” on his upper left shoulder and swords on his right breast area.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Statement of Attorney General Doug Chin Regarding Today’s Fourth Circuit Ruling Against Trump Travel Ban

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a nationwide injunction against President Donald Trump’s Revised Executive Order, dated March 6, 2017, banning travel from six Muslim-majority nations.

Attorney General Chin issued the following statement in response:

“Terrorism must be stopped, but not by sacrificing our constitutional principles or denigrating entire classes of people. Not even the President of the United States is above the U.S. Constitution.”

Today’s Fourth Circuit ruling noted that the text of the revised Executive Order “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”

On May 15, 2017, the State of Hawaii argued in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of Hawaii federal district court Judge Derrick K. Watson’s order enjoining President Trump’s Executive Order nationwide on grounds that the Executive Order violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Ninth Circuit’s decision in that case, Hawaii v. Trump, is still pending.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Will Implement Third Phase of Fee Increase June 1

On June 1, entrance fees at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park will increase, the last phase of a three-year incremental plan to meet national standards for parks with similar visitor amenities.

The 2017 per-vehicle fee will change from $20 to $25 and the pass is valid for seven days. The per-person fee (the rate bicyclists and pedestrians pay) will increase from $10 to $12, and the motorcycle fee will increase to $20.

The popular annual Tri-Park Pass will increase from $25 to $30 in 2017. The annual Tri-Park Pass is available to all visitors and allows unlimited entry for one year to three national parks: Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, Pu‘uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park, and Haleakalā National Park.

Entrance fees at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park support ongoing trail maintenance, road and parking lot striping, cabin repairs, hike guides, restrooms, picnic tables, and much more.

Recreational entrance fees are not charged to holders of the Tri-Park Pass, America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Lands (“Interagency”) Pass, Senior, Access, Every Kidin a Park, Volunteer, or Military passes. These passes may be obtained at the park, or online. In addition, visitors less than 16 years old are not charged entrance fees.

Fee increases for the park’s backcountry and front-country campsites were implemented in October 2016. There is a $10 per night charge for the front-country campground at Kulanaokuaiki, up to seven consecutive nights; and a $10 per permit charge for backcountry campgrounds like Nāpau, ‘Āpua Point, and Halapē, up to three consecutive nights. Availability is on a first-come basis, not a reservation system. The camping permit fees are similar to other public camping fees statewide.

In addition, entrance fees will increase for commercial tour companies on June 1. Road-based tour vans carrying one to six passengers pay a $25 base fee and starting June 1, will pay a $12 per-person rate to enter the park. The commercial tour per-person rate will remain at $12 through 2021. The base fee will not change. Non-road-based tour companies, i.e. hiking tour companies that are on trails more than touring the park by vehicle, don’t pay a base rate but their per-person entrance fees will increase under the schedule.

The current National Park Service (NPS) fee program began in 1997 and allows parks to retain 80 percent of monies collected. Projects funded by entrance fees enhance the visitor experience and safety at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and include ongoing trail maintenance, road and parking lot striping, cabin repairs, hike guides, restrooms, picnic tables, and more. The transformation of the 1932 Administration Building (‘Ōhi‘a Wing) into a cultural museum that visitors will soon enjoy is also a fee-funded project. Entrance fees also protect the Hawaiian ecosystem by funding fencing projects that prevent non-native ungulates like pigs and goats from devouring rare native plants.

An NPS report shows that 1,887,580 visitors to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in 2016 spent $159,195,500 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,917 jobs on island, and had a cumulative benefit to the local community of $199,923,400.