(ABOVE VIDEO) 8-minute report summarizing the 2 hour meeting held on Saturday.
Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Sherry Bracken
VIDEO: Tom Travis explains data gathered thus far
VIDEO: Mike Hale on the night he thought he “might die”
VIDEO: Panel questions residents
VIDEO: Officials present their side of the story
VIDEO: How much hydrogen sulfide was released?
VIDEO: Why wasn’t PGV shutdown before Iselle hit Hawaii?
VIDEO: Department of Health on the hotseat
PAHOA, Hawaii – On Saturday, the Puna community had a chance to directly question company and government officials about the Puna Geothermal Venture steam release on the evening of Hurricane / Tropical Storm Iselle.
The Puna Pono Alliance organized the event at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science building. Aside from the residents who live near the power plant – many of whom say they felt ill in the days since the August 7 release of abated and unabated hydrogen sulfide – the meeting was attended by PGV senior director of Hawaiian affairs Mike Kaleikini, HELCO president Jay Ignacio, State Department of Health official John Peard, and Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator Darryl Oliveira.
PGV shutdown and released hydrogen sulfide after Iselle’s winds knocked transmission lines out. Some residents say they began feeling ill, and some even passed out. To make matters worse, many were unable to evacuate their neighborhood because of the storm. PGV and the power utility were criticized for not shutting down the plant earlier in anticipation of a hurricane.
Puna Geothermal Venture officials maintain the 38-megawatt power generating station was shutdown as designed, and that employees and contractors at the site have not reported feeling ill or nauseous.
Tom Travis goes over the data
Puna Pono Alliance vice president Tom Travis begins Saturday’s meeting with a presentation on data gathered thus far. PPA is in the process of investigating 82 people with complaints. So far, 36 have written their story, recorded a video, or been interviewed.
“A lot of us were concerned we might die.”
After Tom Travis’ presentation (video at the top), Leilani Estates resident Mike Hale recounted the night of the steam release. Hale’s story has been shared before, but this time he was able to deliver his tale directly to officials. He and his family were unable to evacuate their home because of the storm; there were downed trees blocking escape routes in every direction. Hale says he eventually fell asleep in the middle of prepping his home for the storm. He says he stayed asleep for 12 hours, unable to be woken up by his partner.
“You gassed me!”
The official panel was given a chance to ask the community questions, which prompted a few vivid testimonials.
“Our employees responded exactly as they were trained to do”
The official panel of Kaleikini, Ignacio, Peard, and Oliveira then gave their versions of events surrounding the August 7 storm and steam venting. By the time health official Peard gave his statement, the community began to grow restless, bickering among themselves over how to conduct the meeting. It would not be the last time the meeting got out of hand.
How Much Hydrogen Sulfide Was Released?
Puna Pono Alliance questions Kaleikini about the amount of unabated hydrogen sulfide that was released. The two sides explain their estimates.
Why wasn’t PGV shutdown as Iselle approached Hawaii?
With top officials representing PGV and HELCO in attendance, residents were finally able to get a definitive answer as to who decided to keep the geothermal plant in operation with a hurricane warning in effect.
Hawaii Department of Health on the hotseat
John Peard of the state Department of Health is questioned about the missing data from when monitors surrounding the geothermal plant went down, a dysfunctional website, and recent comments in the newspaper in which health officials seemed to downplay the event.
We are currently uploading more video from this night… stay tuned for updates on this page.