Monday, October 16, 2023

Maui ash samples show high levels of arsenic, lead, cobalt; vandals hit emergency sirens; state loses bid to be hydrogen hub; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

aerial view of devastation on Lahaina
Preliminary ash samples from Kula fire show high levels of toxic substances; same expected in Lahaina. Preliminary, unvalidated data from ash sampling received late Friday night shows very high levels of arsenic, and elevated levels of lead and cobalt, in wildfire ash collected in Kula, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health announced on Sunday. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaiian Electric’s wildfire mitigation plan under scrutiny
.  Video cameras, weather sensors, intelligent switches, stronger wires and other upgrades are part of a Hawaiian Electric plan to reduce wildfire ignition risk, though it could take decades to make widespread improvements that only partially reduce risk. Star-Advertiser.

PUC needs definitive cause of Maui fire before HECO investigation. The Public Utilities Commission needs an official finding of what caused the Aug. 8 Maui wildfires before investigating whether a lack of preparation by utility companies contributed to the tragedy that killed 98 people.  Star-Advertiser.

Vandals Are Stealing Parts Off Hawaii’s Emergency Sirens. Roughly three out of every four sirens works at any given time, officials said. At least eight of the state’s emergency sirens are currently not working due to vandalism or suspected vandalism, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s bid to be hydrogen hub falls short. Hawaii won’t be a clean-­hydrogen production and distribution hub under a $7 billion federal initiative. Federal officials announced Friday that seven hydrogen hub plans across the country were selected for the funding, and a bid from Hawaii didn’t make the cut. Star-Advertiser.

This State Employee Is Scouring The Earth For Solutions To Combat Hawaii’s Invasive Species. Government bureaucracy and inadequate research facilities are now blamed for delaying potentially significant relief to industries like macadamia and coffee and possibly even providing a “silver bullet” in the battle against the invasive grasses that fueled the deadly wildfires on Maui. Civil Beat.

Hawaii State Hospital names Luke as permanent head. The state Department of Health said in a press release Thursday that Luke, the interim hospital administrator since May, becomes administrator effective Monday. Star-Advertiser.


‘Red tape’ likely delayed Honolulu police efforts to assist Maui after wildfires. Required county forms appear to have been part of the delay in getting Honolulu police to Maui to help that department in the days after the Lahaina wildfire. Hawaii News Now.

Coast Guard puts 2 new environmental focused units on Oahu. The Coast Guard is expanding its engagement in the Pacific and beyond to tackle illegal fishing and respond to environmental disasters. Star-Advertiser.

US military to begin draining leaky fuel tank facility that poisoned Pearl Harbor drinking water. The military next week plans to begin draining fuel from World War II-era underground fuel tanks in Hawaii, nearly two years after the massive facility sickened 6,000 people when it leaked jet fuel into a Pearl Harbor drinking water well. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. Hawaii News Now.

Downtown businesses expect loss in revenue following cancellation of major Halloween event.  One of Downtown Honolulu’s biggest events of the year will not happen due to a permitting issue, and many bar owners say it will cause a major drop in revenue. Businesses in the Downtown area say Hallowbaloo that Halloween night can represent anywhere from 10 to 30% of their income for October. Hawaii News Now.

On Oahu’s North Shore, big fines are proposed for illegal erosion control measures. Waves have been rising on Oahu’s North Shore, with one of the largest early-season swells possible next week. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Activity at Kīlauea summit decreases dramatically, suggesting recent intrusive event coming to an end. Earthquake and ground deformation rates beneath the southern part of the summit caldera of the Big Island’s Kīlauea volcano and extending southwest to the Koaʻe fault zone have decreased dramatically during the past several days. Big Island Now.

BLNR denies research application, saying project failed to engage with residents
. A United Kingdom-based research project that took samples from Big Island reefs has been terminated after a state board found the scientists failed to hold sufficient public outreach about the project. Tribune-Herald.

BLNR OKs removal of Hawi dam, reservoir. The reservoir has not been in use since 1975, although it was only drained of water in 2014, after the Department of Land and Natural Resources found serious deficiencies in the dam that posed a high risk of failure. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island saw surge of vehicle thefts during the pandemic
. There were 1,190 auto thefts reported islandwide in 2019, the last prepandemic year. The pandemic hit the island in March 2,000, and auto thefts increased to 1,269 that year, a 6.6% increase. Tribune-Herald.


Uncertainty And Delays Are Too Much For Some Lahaina Businesses. They’re Calling It Quits. Cheeseburger in Paradise was a top revenue producer for Maui for decades but its owners have decided not to try to reopen. Other firms are making the same decision. Civil Beat.

Students Return To Lahaina Schools As EPA Seals Down Toxic Ash. State health and education officials say it's safe for kids to come back but some parents and teachers have doubts. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Maui News.

Lahaina fire evacuees being evicted from temporary shelters. William Nhieu, spokes­person for the state Office of Consumer Protection, said the office has opened an investigation but, since it is still pending, declined to comment on specifics. Star-Advertiser.

Modular-home village proposed for displaced Lahaina residents. Tiny-home villages have been popular as emergency housing in Hawaii, but Maude Cumming is pursuing a bigger idea to temporarily re-house many Lahaina residents displaced by the Aug. 8 wildfire that destroyed the West Maui town. Star-Advertiser.

Human Remains From Lahaina Wildfire Found In Courthouse. Maui police also said the number of people who have not been accounted for since the Aug. 8 fire dropped to seven. Civil Beat. Maui News.


Mosquito ‘birth control’ project that could save Hawaiian honeycreeper is moving forward. The project called “Birds, Not Mosquitoes” is working with the state to help import mosquitoes implanted with Wolbachia, a bacterium that would curb reproduction of wild mosquitoes that carry avian malaria — which is killing off the endemic Hawaiian honeycreeper. Hawaii News Now.

Schatz visits Lima Ola housing project in ‘Ele‘ele. U.S. Sen Brian Schatz on Friday stopped by the Lima Ola Housing Development on Kauai’s westside, where he was updated on the decades-long project to build affordable housing on the island. Garden Island.

Six Kaua‘i nonprofits awarded total of $1 million through Life’s Choices grant program. Six Kaua‘i nonprofit agencies will receive a portion of $1 million awarded Oct. 13 through the Kaua’i County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney Life’s Choices program mental health and substance abuse community program grants. Kauai Now.

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