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VOG Causes Kayaker to Get Lost Crossing From Maui to Big Island

The Coast Guard is responding to a kayaker in distress off Big Island, Tuesday.

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter

A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter

Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received notification at 6:29 p.m. via cell phone from a kayaker approximately 19 miles northeast of Kohala, Big Island. The 38-year-old man was en route Big Island from Maui when he reportedly lost sight of the island due to volcanic smog and drifted off course.

Watchstanders were able to triangulate his signal with the aid of Hawaii County Police Dispatch to determine his location.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point diverted from training flights to the kayaker’s location. The Coast Guard Cutter Kiska, homeported in Hilo, is en route to assist.

The HC-130 Hercules crew arrived on scene at 7:15 p.m. and dropped a radio and lifejacket to the kayaker. The kayaker has no other life saving equipment aboard.

Due to depleted cell phone battery, the Hercules crew dropped a radio to establish communication with the kayaker.

Mariners should always carry essential safety equipment when heading out on the water to include a VHF marine radio, lifejacket and flares. VHF radios have the advantage of reaching all vessels within the broadcast range simultaneously. Cell phones only provide one-to-one communication and are an unreliable emergency communication method when offshore. Mariners are also advised to use and register an emergency position-indicating radio beacon or personal locator beacon. For more information on EPIRBs, visit www.epirb.com.

Federal Disaster Declaration is Renewed for Vog Damage to Hawai’i Island Agriculture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has renewed a disaster declaration for Hawai’i Island due to volcanic emissions from Kilauea Volcano. The declaration is in response to a request from Governor Neil Abercrombie on December 27, 2011, citing continued agricultural production losses caused by vog.

The federal declaration allows Hawai’i County agricultural producers the opportunity to apply for emergency loans due to damage caused by volcanic emissions. This type of disaster assistance has been provided for Hawai’i Island agricultural producers since 2008.

“Many farmers and ranchers on Hawai’i Island continue to have a difficult time with the cumulative effects of vog on their crops and livestock operations,” said Governor Abercrombie.  “The federal disaster designation renews our access to emergency federal loans and other assistance programs in this ongoing situation.”

Agricultural damages reported in Hawai’i County include: damage to vegetable crops (especially leafy greens), some orchard crops, flowers and foliage (including those under greenhouses).
Ranchers have experienced adverse impacts on range grasses and premature corrosion of fencing, gates and other metal infrastructure.

Hawai’i County agricultural producers who want to apply for emergency loans due to damage caused by volcanic emissions must do so before August 2012. For more information regarding emergency loans and other available assistance, contact the Hilo office of the USDA Farm Service Agency at (808) 933-8381 extension 2.

Public Invited to Learn More About VOG and Volcanic Gases

The public is invited to learn about Kīlauea’s volcanic gases and vog (volcanic air pollution) in an “After Dark in the Park” program at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Tues., Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.

Sulfur dioxide gas emissions from the crater of Pu‘u ‘Ō ‘ō on Kīlauea’s east rift zone (above) and the vent within Halema‘uma‘u Crater at Kīlauea’s summit create volcanic pollution that affects the air quality of downwind communities.  Here, an HVO gas geochemist measures Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō gas emissions using an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light

U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists Jeff Sutton and Tamar Elias will update information on Kīlauea Volcano’s gas emissions and associated environmental impacts.  Their presentation will be at the park’s Kīlauea Visitor Center Auditorium. Park entrance fees apply.

Sutton and Elias will discuss how vog forms from sulfur dioxide gas emitted from Kīlauea’s east rift and summit vents.  They will also provide an overview of existing resources that residents can consult to better deal with this notable aspect of the volcano’s ongoing eruptions. After their talk, an optional “gas tasting” session will be offered, during which attendees can safely learn to recognize individual volcanic gases by smell.

Kīlauea has been releasing large amounts of potentially hazardous volcanic gases for nearly three decades—since the beginning of the volcano’s east rift zone eruption in 1983.  In March 2008, Kīlauea gas emissions increased further when a new vent opened in Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of the volcano.

Average sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas emissions from Kīlauea’s east rift zone vent declined significantly in 2010 but jumped briefly during the Kamoamoa eruption in March 2011.  Kīlauea summit SO2 emissions, overall, have remained high since the opening of the Halema‘uma‘u Overlook Vent in 2008.

At of the end of 2011, the combined emission rate for these two sources was about half of what it was during 2008-2009. This lower combined rate has been comparatively good news for downwind residents and visitors of Hawai‘i Island.

This presentation is one of many programs offered by HVO during Hawai‘i Island’s Volcano Awareness Month in January 2012.  For details about this After Dark in the Park program, please call 808-985-6011.  More information about Volcano Awareness Month is posted on the HVO website at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

Department of Health Opposes Mobile Medical Care for Southern Portion of Big Island… HB317

I’m a bit late checking a few of my Twitter Favorites, but I just came across one by Georgette Deemer that was very interesting:

HB317 provides mobile medical care for southern portion of Big Island. Dept. of Health opposes. HMSA supports.

HB317
RELATING TO MOBILE MEDICAL CARE.
Mobile Medical Van; Vog Health Care
Authorizes the use of federal Homeland Security Grant Program funds to provide the people of the southern portion of the island of Hawaii with increased access to suitable emergency and clinical medical care.

VOG Legislation: Rep. Souki… “This is a Natural Disaster, and No One’s in Charge.”

Hat tip to Georgette Deemer over at the Hawaii House Blog for blogging about the recent VOG hearings at the capital which obviously affect us all.

Deemer blogs “Who’s in Charge?“:

Six House committees met jointly this morning to hear VOG related bills in order to make it easier for testifiers from the various state/county agencies and the public. Rep. Robert Herkes coordinated the hearing, as chair of the House Special Committee on VOG Effects…
…At the end of the hearing, Rep. Herkes summed it up by saying that Rep. Souki hit the nail on the head when he concluded that “This is a natural disaster, and no one’s in charge.” Rep. Herkes has and continues to be frustrated by a lack of response from certain state agencies in addressing the immediate problems faced by the people on the Big Island…
…Although the state administration has established an Interagency Task Force on Vog, Rep. Herkes exclaimed that the task force has no chair and has only met twice. Rep. Souki added, “Meanwhile, the whole island is going to pot.”

Full Blog here

The other day, I posted our own District 5 Councilwoman’s testimony that she submitted to the legislature. You can view that interesting piece of testimony here.

Deemer also lists the following “VOG Package” that is before the legislature this year:

HB313 RELATING TO HIGHWAYS. This bill requires the Department of Transportation to conduct more reviews of the highway guardrails on the Big Island, as they are deteriorating from exposure to acid rain caused by VOG.

HB318 RELATING TO VOG. This bill requires the Department of Agriculture to work with the University of Hawaii to determine the best methods of VOG treatment and to research VOG-resistant varieties of plants.

HB316 RELATING TO AGRICULTURE. This bill establishes a temporary reimbursement program for tenants of state agricultural lands in VOG-impacted areas in order to reimburse tenants for costs of reapir and maintenance of fencing and other infrastructure.

HB312 RELATING TO HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES. This bill directs the Department of Defense to develop and implement a program to ensure that an adequate number of monitors are in place throughout the state where high VOG and sulfur dioxide incidences are known to occur.

HB317 RELATING TO MOBILE MEDICAL CARE. This bill authorizes the use of the federal Homeland Security Grant Program funds for mobile emergency and clinical medical care for the people in the southern sections of the Big Island.

HB314 RELATING TO WORKERS’ COMPENSATION. This bill requires the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to develop rules for workers’ compensation claims involving VOG-related medical conditions.

HB315 RELATING TO VOLCANIC EMISSIONS. This bill requires the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to establish standards to promote worker safety during high incidences of VOG or sulfur dioxide.

Deemer concludes, “As the Labor Committee had a quorum, they passed HB314 as is, and passed HB315 with amendments. The other bills were deferred for decision making next week.”

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.

——————————————

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

Pahoa Student Documents the Vog Day from Last Week… Video

Last week on Tuesday, we had really high levels of VOG here in Pahoa.  I had never seen it this bad before.

When I dropped my son off at school, they mentioned that Civil Defense had put Pahoa school on stand-by for possible evacuation and that if Pahoa School got evacuated… the preschool would as well.

Some of the kids did end up getting sick and sent home.

I just found this youtube clip that shows just how voggy it actually was.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr1xWM1QnYs&hl=en&fs=1]