VIDEO: Politics kill bill on geothermal emergency plan

VIDEO: Politics kill bill on geothermal emergency plan
Big Island Video News

Council Chair Yagong questions Civil Defense head Fuata

Administration changes tune, bill 257 veto override fails

HILO, Hawaii: Two high profile bills dealing with geothermal energy were on Wednesday’s County Council agenda. Both were vetoed by Mayor Billy Kenoi, and the council hoped to overturn the vetoes with a super majority vote.

99 people showed up to testify on the override attempts, and shared passionate opinions from both sides of the issue.

After hours and hours of testimony, the first veto override was taken up. Bill 257: a measure that, if passed as originally intended, would have provided or clarified the county’s evacuation plans in case of a geothermal emergency by August 1st.

At one point, the administration – and newly appointed Civil Defense Administrator Ben Fuauta – appeared supportive of the measure. They even told local papers that there would be a drill held over the summer to fine tune the plan. But then, the mayor and the Civil Defense administrator suddenly changed their minds. In his veto message, Mayor Billy Kenoi said there is already a good plan in place for such an event.

The Council Chair – and mayoral candidate – Dominic Yagong introduced the bill. Some councilmembers were perplexed at the mayors veto, and heavily questioned Fuata about the specifics of the emergency plan. Engaging the councilmembers in semantics, Fuata said he doesn’t think a literal plan is needed, but rather a set of protocols in dealing with the dynamics of geothermal disaster. Reading from a paper, Fuata provided a detailed set of procedures that would be applied in case of a geothermal emergency. But when it came to including the public in how the plan was formulated, Fuata appeared evasive. Supporters of Bill 257 booed.

Eventually, the vote came down. The results: 5 to 4, one vote short the 6 needed to override the mayor’s veto.

[Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Stephanie Salazar]


  • Lance Duncan

    The public’s health and safety interests were not served by council members voting no, and members of the public should remember this failure of the public’s trust when casting ballots in a few days.

  • LeilaniResFrom1973

    I’m stunned that we think we’re so DUMB that we don’t know what to do in an emergency.
    If you hear the damn air raid siren go off other the first of the month at 11:45am …. GET THE F*CK OUT!!!!!!

    Jump in your car and LEAVE!

    Go to the Pahoa Rec. Center till they get it sorted out.

    But I’m not going to stress out waiting for a blow-out. It only happened once, of any significance, in over 30 years.
    I’m more worried about the ice-heads in Puna then I am about the geothermal.

    Research The Venus Project on You-Tube, we need geothermal.

  • Robert Petricci

    They can not bow the siren Leilani 73…….They are a interconnected…..They can not just blow one or two…..

    There were 18 declared civil defense emergencies just between 1991 and 1999…..Since then it hard to get the info…..But here are a coupe more recent ones…..

    PGV/Ormat, on August 25, 2005, during a well clean-out released high levels of toxic gas into the community.

    The accident at the KS 6 well, recorded a 1-hour average H2S level of 789 ppb. The actual high level reached and released into the community during this exposure has never been publicly disclosed. 789 ppb averaged over an hour means much higher levels could easily have been mask released. Further we do not know what was released before or after this 1 hour span. We also know they had a release in November of 2011. Where was EPA, or NIH? Now we are suppose to trust them? Really? Why? They have had 31 years, it would be foolish to depend on them now. They have a vested interest in covering for their failure to do the studies or protect us from these kinds of leaks.

    We need full disclosure to the community of how many leaks are happening and a list of all of them.

  • Lance Duncan

    besides H2S there is radioactive radon, other heavy metal radionuclides, and other toxic substances released when there is a blowout or other “accident”


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