HILO, Hawaii – Amidst concerns expressed by residents neighboring the planned East Hawaii Organics Facility in Panaewa, the mayor is taking another look at the enhanced mulching project.
“My concern is the placement,” Mayor Harry Kim said of the $10.5 million project, “but before I get to that, my concern is on the whole project itself.”
Some nearby residents would like to see an environmental impact statement instead of an assessment for the planned facility, and have said they will oppose the project.
At the same time, the Hawaiian Homes communities of Keaukaha and Panaewa are beginning to mobilize, seeking environmental justice after years of living in the heart of an industrialized transportation hub.
Terri Napeahi is leading the Keaukaha Action Network and demanding government undertake a comprehensive study of the cumulative impacts from the toxic inventory, waste management and mass transit that surrounds her community.
Napeahi started a Hawaiian Community Health Task Force group on Facebook, where she keeps everyone informed of her efforts. Napeahi has also scheduled the next KAN meeting on January 19 at 5 p.m. at the Kawananakoa Gym in Keaukaha. She says they will be joined by William Kucharski, the newly appointed Environmental Management Director for the county.
The landfill and compost facility will be discussed, Napeahi says.
“The location (of the organics facility) is important,” Kim said during an interview outside his Hilo office, “It’s important that we don’t infringe on the residents of the area, that make life negative for them in any way.”
But its the project itself that is getting the review, Kim said.
“Who takes care and who is coordinating the development of all the necessary things in Kona?” Kim asks. “Because that’s where we are going to take the food waste.”
“All the questions I ask relating to that; who is responsible for developing a program for distribution? All the answers came back: the county,” the mayor said.
The county will take care of everything except for the compost processing itself, Kim said.
“I need to look at this whole thing. Maybe Hilo is not the place where it should be,” Kim said. However, the mayor added that the contract for the facility has already been signed.