Hawaii Citizens Urge Governor and EPA to Clean Up Geothermal Energy Plant Before Allowing More.
News Release from Geothermal Hawaii May 10, 2013
272 Big Island residents have sent a letter to Hawaii’s Governor Abercrombie and the EPA asking them to begin a more comprehensive analysis of geothermal pollution before allowing more plants to be installed in the State of Hawaii.
Despite well-publicized claims that Hawaii’s geothermal energy resources are clean and safe, a pattern of hazardous releases has inspired two hundred and seventy-two Big Island residents to send a letter to Governor Abercrombie and the EPA asking them to place a moratorium on further geothermal development until authorities take a closer look at Hawaii’s geothermal practices, regulations and enforcement. While Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) seeks to expand geothermal operations on both east and west sides of the Big Island, local residents have become increasingly alarmed to learn about the lack of air and groundwater monitoring for heavy metals and proprietary chemicals used in geothermal injection wells. State and local government sources say there are more plans for developing this heavy industry but there are no plans on the table to further safeguard the public and the environment.
Geothermal advocates often claim there is little opposition to building more plants in Puna, Hawaii, but recently, 900 people came out to sign a last minute petition opposing an IDG geothermal development in Pohoiki, home to many residents, farms and schools and a very popular recreational area known for its access to pristine coastal waters. Local petitioners were surprised by the large turnout considering that Puna is generally a very quiet and rural place and they only had five days to gather signatures.
Many residents say they are being ignored for the sake of corporate profits. Some express dismay that their current mayor, Billy Kenoi and lobbyists like Mililani Trask, claim to speak for them, or treat their concerns as nothing more than a “speed bump.” They also worry that they are being set up for the same regulatory scenario that caused the horrible fertilizer disaster in West Texas. With plans in the works to expand geothermal energy to West Hawaii, Maui and Oahu, many Hawaii residents consider that the lack of oversight in Puna may be a template for what will happen in other parts of Hawaii.
On March 13, 2013, an accidental release of hydrogen sulfide at Puna Geothermal Ventures (PGV), spurred many local citizens into action when they witnessed that Hawaii County Civil Defense emergency response teams reported levels of hydrogen sulfide nearly a hundred times higher than levels reported by monitors at PGV. This disparity has many residents worried that the Department of Health’s policy of relying on PGV to self-monitor is a reckless conflict of interests that is putting their families in danger. Local residents say they are beginning to suspect that the popular claim of Hawaii’s geothermal energy being “clean and safe,” may ultimately rely on a lack of independent monitoring and reporting.
For more information contact Geothermal Hawaii at: email@example.com
Online version of letter is available at: http://geothermalhawaii.org/citizens-letter/
Further information is available at www.geothermalhawaii.org
Related: “Damned Sellout” Mililani Trask Defends PLDC