About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Ka`u News Briefs Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2016

Pesticide buffer zones around schools and hospitals,  and more monitoring of pesticide drift from farms
to waterways and people, are some of the expected proposals at the 2017 Hawai`i Legislature.
Photo from Hawai`i Center for Food Safety
PESTICIDES IN AGRICULTURE will be the focus of a group of health advocates at the 2017 Hawai`i  Legislature, particularly since the courts have held that the state, not the counties, are allowed to regulate pesticides. An Associated Press story this week quoted west Ka`u's state Sen. Josh Green, who plans to introduce a ban on glyphosate, an herbicide used by farmers, gardeners, landscapers and state and county highway crews for weed control. Glyphosate, with brand names like Roundup, Accord, Rodeo, Touchdown, and Glyphosaste 360, was identified by the World Health Organization as a probable carcinogen.
     While the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization says glyphosate unlikely poses a carcinogenic risk through diet and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says glyphosate is of low toxicity to humans, Green, a physician, sees it differently. He said he is concerned with the aerial distribution of glyphosate and other toxic chemicals into the human respiratory system and onto the skin. He said breathing and touching glyphosate and similar herbicides are a risk to health.
Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association supports genetic
engineering and opposes government enforced buffer zones.
Photo from Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association
    "I'm hopeful that we're not going to wait for a bad event and see some terrible sickness in our state," Green told the AP.
     The AP story referred to herbicide use around an elementary school and in seed corn fields where workers became ill,  leading the Environmental Protection Administration to ask a federal judge in December to levy a $5 million fine on Syngenta. The EPA stated Syngenta failed to inform its farm workers in Hawai`i to stay out of fields treated with restricted pesticides. Several workers went to the hospital. "Syngenta allowed or directed workers to enter the treated field before the require waiting period had passed and without proper personal protective equipment. After the workers' exposure, Syngenta failed to provide adequate decontamination supplies onsite and failed to provide prompt transportation for emergency medical attention," the EPA concluded.
      The AP reported on an ongoing O`ahu and Kaua`i study of pesticides in surface water "before and during storms to evaluate if chemicals are moving offsite at unacceptable levels. The state also is planning to triple its fee to register pesticides to fund monitoring and to expand statewide the Kaua`i Good Neighbor Program - in which seed companies on Kaua`i voluntarily report their pesticide use monthly to the state."
Scott Enright, Chair of state Board of Agriculture.
Photo from Big Island Video News
     The AP story said that  "critics say the new programs fall short because reporting is voluntary and because the companies don't disclose the location where the pesticide is sprayed. Requiring companies to report spray locations could be tricky because fields where seeds are tested are generally spread out to avoid cross-pollination and because it's a competitive industry, said Scott Enright, chairman of the state Department of Agriculture." The AP report quoted Enright: "Even though they're doing similar work, Syngenta, Monsanto Dow and Pioneer are all competitors, and they're trying to keep the millions of dollars that the've put in to research the genetics lines that they're developing as confidential business information."
     The Hawai`i Crop Improvement Association, with many of the genetic engineering companies in its membership, objects to the buffer zones and other controls, saying they could hurt small farmers and are an affront to private property rights. The organization's website says that "Genetic changes have helped farmers improve crops in Hawai`i for centuries," and that "Today's seed companies continue that tradition by breeding crops for traits that help farmers achieve their goals, such as drought tolerance, increased yield, pest management or disease resistance."
   At the state legislature this year, proposals are expected to call for herbicide free buffer zones around schools and hospitals. Hawai`i Center for Food Safety director Ashley Lukens, who has given talks in Ka`u, said the genetic engineering industry, with companies like Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer and BASF, treat their crops with large amounts of pesticides that drift to nearby properties, creating a health risk.
     “It’s high time EPA called out Syngenta’s unethical and illegal practices," wrote Lukens. "The necessity of EPA’s complaint against Syngenta is a tragic reminder that despite federal regulations, our communities and our farm workers risk their lives every day – not to feed our families and country, but for the benefit of chemical companies that care only about their bottom line.
     “We are told time and time again that the pesticide/engineered seed industry in Hawai`i is a responsible user of agrochemicals and a ‘good neighbor’, but even a cursory look at the dismal environmental and public health track records of these companies reveals otherwise. The people of Hawai`i, our food, and our environment deserve so much more than an economy driven by greed.”
      See more at www.staradvertiser.com, www.bettercropshawaii.com and www.centerforfoodsafety.org/hawaii.

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STATE SEN. JOSH GREN hosts a talk story at King Kamehameha Hotel in Kona on Thursday, Jan. 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. to discuss the 2017 Hawai`i Legislature.

The map shows the area that collapsed into the ocean on New Year's Eve. Map from USGS
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO PU`U O`O," sang about 250 people celebrating the 34th anniversary of the beginnings of the current eruption. Ranger Dean Gallagher led the singing last night in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park auditorium as a prelude to a talk by Dr. Tina Neal, entitled “43 Years and Counting.” Neal is Scientist In Charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Her talk was an After Dark in the Park event, which, this month will feature talks on Vulcanology to promote Volcano Awareness Month.
Dr. Tina Neal, Scientist in Charge at 
USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
     Addressing a packed auditorium, Neal recounted the various stages of the Pu’u O’o eruption, which began Jan. 3, 1983 about 10 miles from the auditorium, and the summit eruption which began about eight years ago about two miles from the talk.
     Neal described the activity of the first three years as “fountaining lava and fast-moving pahoehoe flows, which did not reach the ocean, but rattled windows in the Royal Gardens subdivision.” The next five-and-a-half years saw the creation of lava tubes which provided a conduit for the lava to reach the ocean. “This was the most destructive period,” said Neal. “One hundred-sixty eight structures, mostly homes, were destroyed.”
     From 1992 to 2007, the flows were to the southeast, extending the coastline for 15 years. From 2011 to 2014, the flows were again reaching the coast. June 2014 to March 2015 was a time of crisis when the outbreak on Pu’u O’o’s northeast flank sent lava flowing toward the Kahoe homesteads and Pahoa. One home was burned, the transfer station and cemetery were invaded, and then the lava flow stopped as the supply rate dropped.
Pu`u O`o's flows have amazed onlookers for 34 years.
USGS photo
     From April 2015 to May 2016, the volcano became “pressurized” and the 61g breakouts occurred – one to the north and another to the east. The northern-most lobe dried up as the eastern one got momentum, and by June 23 there was flow activity along the National Park boundary. On July 25, lava crossed the emergency road built in case Pahoa was cut off, and on July 26 lava reached the ocean for the first time since July 2013. The Ka’u Calendar published a Volcano Watch recap of the 2016 activity in this blog dated December 29.
     Neal explained the science behind the dramatic earth-shattering delta collapse of New Year’s Eve, which, fortunately, did not claim lives. She showed a slide of the first collapse, which destroyed most of the new delta, and of the second collapse, which destroyed “old” cliffs and invaded a small part of what had been designated a lava viewing area.
     She also talked briefly about the current summit activity, which began on March 19, 2008 with an explosion that created a vent about 115 feet wide in the Halema’uma’u crater within the Kilauea crater. This vent can be seen from the Jaggar Museum. Neal showed videos of the vent growing from wall collapse.
      Her plans for 2017 at the HVO include installing a radar system to monitor the activity within Halema’uma’u and getting a high-resolution heat sensing camera to monitor the gas plume. Scientists will also create a detailed map of the 61g pahoehoe flow so that they can better predict where flows are likely to go. 

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HAWAI`I COUNTY COUNCIL MEETINGS,  Thursday, Jan 5 at 9 a.m. Ka`u residents can participate via videoconferencing at Na`alehu State Office Building. See hawaiicounty.gov for agendas and live-streamed and archived meetings.

OCEAN VIEW NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH MEETING, Thursday, Jan. 5 at 7 p.., Ocean View Community Center. 939-2442 and 928-2015.