(VIDEO ABOVE) A portion of the testimony delivered on Thursday, September 4, before the Windward Planning Commission. Including Jon Olson, Rene Siracusa, Greg Smith, Joyce Folena, Roy Lozano, George and Stephani Douvris, Greg Adams, Russell Ruderman, Geoffrey Last, Judith Mora and Paul Kuykendall.
Video by David Corrigan
HILO, Hawaii – A group of Puna residents attended the Windward Planning Commission on Thursday to testify on a proposed Geothermal Public Health Study. The commission voted to approve a request for $750,000 to fund the study.
Mayor Billy Kenoi is looking to tap into the Geothermal Asset Fund to pay for the study. The money would fund the public health study of up to three years “to determine if there are health effects on Puna residents that can be linked to geothermal energy development that will focus on effects on central nervous system, respiratory and anxiety disorder symptom functions.”
A Geothermal Public Health Assessment study group was convened at the request of the mayor in 2013. The group recommended – among other things – that a comprehensive health effects study be done. Since that time, there have been a few venting incidents at the Puna Geothermal Venture plant in Pohoiki. The most recent was the August 7th incident on the night Hurricane / Tropical Storm Iselle hit Hawaii.
Most of the testifiers were in support of the study, although some were concerned because they did not see the county’s Request For Proposals for the study. They also wanted to incorporate the data from the latest venting incident at PGV. Some even suggested postponing the study.
After a few failed motions and an executive session, the commission voted to approve the request to fund the study, but added two new conditions. First, the county must seek the input of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, the county must deliver an annual report to the commission on the status of the RFP process.
Kevin Dayton, an executive assistant to the mayor, said the Geothermal Asset Fund currently contains $1.96 million, and that if all goes well, the county expects to award a contract for the study in the first quarter of next year.
Occupy Hilo filmed the whole meeting and posted it to YouTube: