That clip has some snippets from Aloha Uprising’s Friday evening soirée at Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Restaurant, and then from yesterday’s marathon 7th session of Hawai’i County Council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water, and Energy Sustainability. The committee meeting was gavelled into session at 8:30 am and didn’t end until 7 pm, there were several 15 min. recesses, with a 1 hour lunch.
The Committee members had asked for presentations from 1) Mr. Kaleikini of Puna Geothermal Ventures(PGV), which is owned by the Israeli-based Ormat Industries, 2) Dr. Mililani Trask of Innovations Development Group, Inc., and, 3) For the State to have a Dept. of Health representative available to answer any questions the County Council might have. (More on that later!)
It was a packed house with about 100 attendees in Hilo’s County Council chambers alone, I’d arrived a little late and had to stand outside because there were no chairs available inside(there are speakers mounted outside), with more attending the session, through the three satellite county offices, in Pahoa, Waimea, and Kona. Hawai’i County is one of the largest counties (a total area of 5,086.70 square miles) in the country! There were about 40 public testifiers in Hilo town, with a dozen or so from the satellite offices.
Typically, the first item on the Agenda is when all public testimony is accepted, then that’s it for the public, and the Council/Committee will move on, reserving the right to call a party back for clarification, etc., but, no more public input! However, this go-around, we’d approached most of the members early on, and at several recent events we’d hosted, asked them specifically to take the Public Testimony after these presentations! I’d noticed today in chambers, they had reverted back to their norm, but I digress…
So, Puna Geothermal Venture started off with a brief, half hour or so spiel, on how awesome they are and are only utilizing the ‘Best and Safest’ technologies available, blah, blah, blah… Then, up steps, Mililani Trask, armed with a hour, Power Point Presentation, which quickly made sashimi of Ormat’s noise; ‘there’s ten different technologies, and Ormat uses the oldest and cheapest’ was a notable zinger, amongst others. But, I’m no fan of Mililani, in that, she’s working hand and glove with the Neo-Lib
PTBs interests, particularly, with her closing remarks that ‘we’ need to match the ‘right technology to the earth.’ Not when you’re promoting a $1 Billion undersea cable, the Big Wind project, and the continued drilling into Madame Pele…!
Not cool at all, the wrong technology is being utilized in the entire schemata, to start with! She gives lip service to ‘microgrids,’ ‘smart metering,’ and all, but fails to grasp the centrality of the thesis! What’s lacking is the decoupling from the entire antiquated system, into localized production and usage, not pumping it into a single cable just to feed Oahu’s voracious appetite, of which takes a constant load of 100 Megawatts just to push the juice through it…! How many PV panels and compact windmills, or even tidal power OWC’s(pdf!), could that $1 billion buy…?
It was notable that Mililani and her stoolies soon departed after her powerful PPP…! Unlike the Ormat/PGV crew, much to their chagrin, for after all the public testimony was over, they were raked over the coals by all the Council members, for the last hour and a half, with several public testifiers called back for rebuttal…! Tsk, tsk…!
Anyways, getting back to the noticeable lack of attendance by any State DoH representative, and, their lack of response to any written questions by County Council members, submitted well beforehand, was palpable…!
Hmmm… I wonder why…?
From the prepared text of Occupy Hilo, and other Community orgs…
Pele Defense Fund, Puna Pono Alliance, Occupy Hilo, and Malu Aina request that the Hawaii County Council, through its chairman Dominic Yagong, initiate and facilitate a dialogue with the State Department of Health on behalf of the people in lower Puna.
Serious health, safety, and nuisance concerns have been raised with this Council by hundreds of Puna area residents over the last few months.
We believe the issues raised are long standing, serious, and of a nature that requires a response from the state DOH. We believe the DOH has an obligation to the affected community beyond its general responsibility to public health. When the DOH granted permits allowing the PGV power plant to be placed in a pre-existing residential community with no buffer zones or setbacks, they assumed an obligation to be responsive to concerns and or impacts that permit creates for the families that live near that plant.
The Hawaii County Council has brought forth legislation in response to issues raised by the residents to facilitate health studies, community monitors, a notification system, and to establish a buffer zone around the power plant.
With its resources and responsibilities as a permitting authority and in its role as general guardian of the public’s health and safety, the State DOH should be working with PGV and also with the Hawaii County Council and the residents they are charged with protecting. Unfortunately, to date they are not. This is an attempt to remedy that.
DOH records document the surrounding community’s concerns and complaints of impacts dating back to the first operation of the state’s HGP-A experimental geothermal power plant. We ask this council to request that the DOH meet its responsibility to the residents of Puna by openly answering the questions attached to this testimony. We believe that obtaining answers to these questions may help to elaborate on the well known historic and currently ongoing concerns of the families living in the subdivisions adjacent to the PGV power plant in lower Puna.
We request all data, test results, notifications and reports submitted to the DOH by PGV as outlined in the Noncovered Source Permit for PGV, including but not limited to those described in Attachments I, IIA, IIB, and IV, for the past ten years.
The standard for calibration expressed in the health department’s air quality monitoring network report says calibration is done every 60 days.
1) Why is there such a discrepancy between the DOH standard of 60 days and PGV’s daily calibration activities?
2) How many monitors does the DOH presently have around the PGV plant?
3) Why did the DOH remove monitors from the area?
4) How long is historical data kept for the monitors, where is it, and how can the public access that information?
5) Who selects the monitoring sites and what criteria are used to pick the locations?
6) When did the DOH first become aware of health concerns related to geothermal exploration and development being raised by people in the community surrounding the HGP-A geothermal experimental plant and PGV?
7) What has been done to document and mitigate the impacts?
8) Does DOH acknowledge the toxicity and adverse health effects of chronic exposure to low levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S)?
9) If not, why not?
10) If so, what is DOH doing about persistent low level H2S emissions from PGV?
11) Why does DOH require PGV to reinject waste instead of allowing them to release the emissions to the atmosphere and pond the effluent like they allowed HGP-A to do?
12) Is DOH aware that in 1984 they found:?
“Residents in Puna have expressed considerable concern that hydrogen
sulfide (H2S) and other effluents released by the HGP-A well and other
geothermal development projects may adversely affect their health and
quality of life. Little concern was publicly voiced about H2S and other
potentially toxic gases naturally vented in the area prior to the drilling
of these wells”.
A STUDY OF THE HEALTH STATUS OF A POPULATION EXPOSED TO
LOW LEVELS OF HYDROGEN SULFIDE (AND OTHER GEOTHERMAL EFFLUENTS)
IN PUNA, HAWAII
Bruce S. Anderson, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chairman
Environmental Epidemiologist (Consultant)
Department of Health
Water and re injection:
HRS Chapter 23 regarding injection wells, specifically Class V for geothermal fluids.
Requires that reinjection of effluent be done at a depth that will not be DETRIMENTAL to underground sources of drinking water. The receiving formation water shall be tested and injection allowed under the following conditions. (see quote below). Implicit is that the receiving formation not be fractured or allowed to contaminate or in other ways be detrimental to underground sources of drinking water.
1) Has there been any testing to show that the receiving formation is intact?
2) Do water test results indicate that PGV has contaminated ground water?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has primary regulatory authority over the nation’s injection wells, would not discuss specific well failures identified by ProPublica or make staffers available for interviews.
“In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted,” said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program in Washington. “A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.”
2) In 2007, the EPA launched a national data system to centralize reports on injection wells. Does Hawaii submit reports on the geothermal UIC wells to EPA or the centralized system?
3) What are the UIC well inspection protocols? How often are the wells inspected and by who?
4) Where are the reports filed and how does the public access them?
5) How much material does PGV pumps into the UIC wells? How many UIC wells does PGV have?
6) What is the number and location of all water monitor wells?
7) How many of the water monitoring wells are PGV wells?
8) How many of the water monitoring wells are county wells?
9) How many of the water monitoring wells are state wells?
10) Are any private water wells monitored?
11) How many GPM does PGV pump down the UIC wells?
12) Does PGV pump 3,000 GPM down the UIC wells?
13) Was contamination of the ground water from any geothermal project in Puna ever detected?
14) If so when, where, and how does the public access the data?
15) Is or was there a county water well at Greenlake in Puna?
16) If so, was it ever tested for geothermal contamination?
17 If contamination was ever detected, could it have come from PGV or HGP-A?
18) Have any monitoring, state, or county water wells between PGV and the ocean been closed or abandoned? If so why?
19) What kind of ground water testing is done by DOH around the PGV site?
20) Are there baseline water quality studies to compare current water quality to?
21) Where is this data from the monitoring wells, and can this information be made available online?
22) Are the warm ponds being tested for geothermal contamination related to re injection by PGV?
23) If not, can the warm ponds be added to the normal monitoring of water for toxins or geothermal contamination?
In a letter to the Leilani Community from Ormat representative Paul Thomsen dated March 2012 he states the water does not meet EPA standards.
24) What water is he referring to?
25) What water testing is Mr. Thomsen talking about?
26) Who did the test Mr. Thomsen referred to?
27) Were baseline studies done prior to HGP-A ponding geothermal brine in unlined ponds to compare these tests to?
28) Were baseline studies done prior to PGV’s reinjection of geothermal brine to compare these tests to?
29) Is there any water testing data available from prior to geothermal drilling in Puna?
30) Is regular testing done on the water in wells and catchments in Hawaiian Beaches, Nanawale, Kalapana, Seaview and Pahoa?
31) When PGV tests the water, is it checked for lead, arsenic, mercury, and other possible contaminants from the brine?
32) Can the public access the test results of the brine and re injectate?
1) What do we have to do to get the permit levels changed, both low and high level frequencies?
2) What do we have to do to get a review of the noise standards and the implications for people’s health?
3) Is the noise from PGV looked at in the same way as other nuisance noise ordinances e.g. dogs barking, etc.?
4) What are the time parameters for this sort of nuisance noise, e.g. the time this sort of noise can start in the morning and when it must stop at night?
5) What are implications of noise impacts on health?
6) What are the psychological and physical impacts of the keeping people up all night?
1) Does PGV have a heavy metal problem?
2) Does PGV produce any Hazardous waste?
3) If so what is it?
4) Does PGV ship or transport hazardous waste off site?
5) Does PGV use the material from any of its scrubbers around the plant for weed killer or fertilizer?
6) If so what is it?
7) Who is responsible to oversee what happens to waste produced by scrubbers or other operations?
8) Does maintenance like cleaning out pipes, etc. at PGV produce any hazardous waste?
9) If so, who hauls the waste away and what happens to it after it leaves the PGV site?
In the Jan. 12 edition of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald 1997. There was a headline, “Official: Health Survey Bogus.” The story quoted Bruce Anderson, deputy director of the state Department of Health in Honolulu, as saying that the results of any survey Legator conducted would be inherently biased because the subjects were rabidly anti-geothermal and had had years to bone up on the effects of hydrogen sulfide.
1) Why would a community “bone up” on health effects of H2S?
2) Can DOH provide the basis for their public accusation that the 98 people in the Legator study were “rabidly anti-geothermal”?
3) What constitutes “rabidly anti-geothermal “?
4) Can the DOH explain why such a large section of the population surrounding the geothermal plant would lie about impacts to their community?
5) How was the DOH able to do a reliable health study on the effects of geothermal impacts if it labels the people complaining about being sick as “rabidly anti-geothermal” and refuses to let them participate?
6) If DOH only examines people who are not sick or complaining about being sick, wouldn’t that skew the results to tend to find no problem or a reduced problem?
7) Dr. Anderson, former deputy director of DOH, said in 1997 “Emissions from the volcano make every other anthropogenic source pale by comparison,” is that a fair assessment in lower Puna? How do you know?
8) Is it true that volcanic gasses consist primarily of sulfur dioxide?
9) Does SO2 affect the body differently than hydrogen sulfide? How?
10) Is it true that SO2 tends to cause respiratory distress, while H2S disrupts the central nervous system?
11) Is a population that is already impacted by volcanic emissions and has health effects (as DOH has noted) more sensitive to other toxins like H2S and other geothermal toxins or heavy metals?
12) Would the combined impact of volcanic emissions and geothermal gasses that contain H2S, radon, arsenic, lead, benzene, etc. be cumulative? Please elaborate.
13) Has DOH ever looked at what the cumulative impacts are in the community that is exposed to geothermal emissions?
14) Is it possible or probable that a population including infants, elderly, pregnant women, or comorbid conditions like asthma and respiratory disease could be affected by geothermal emissions at lower levels than a healthy person, such as OSHA standards are designed to address?
15) Did the DOH ever obtain blood tests or any other diagnostic tests in any of their surveys or studies or on the people complaining about health impacts from the HGP-A or PGV plants?
16) If not, why not? If so, where are the test results?
17) What would the cumulative impact be of two geothermal plants?
18) What would the cumulative impacts be from 10 plants?
19) Is there any number of geothermal power plants in Puna that DOH would view as a threat to the health and safety of the community?
Any questions, folks…?