(BIVN) – Tough questions and passionate outbursts punctuated a public presentation held in Hilo Wednesday about the Hū Honua Bioenergy project planned for Pepeʻekeo.
Prior to a public hearing on pending permits before the health department, officials held a public information meeting at the ʻImiloa Astronomy Center. There are three permits under discussion:
- National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) application and draft permit to discharge storm water associated with industrial activities from the Hu Honua Bioenergy, LLC facility, to receiving State waters, subject to special conditions
- Application for an Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit to operate
- Solid waste permit application for the recycling of ash
There was a large turnout for the information meeting. Half the room was full of project officials, employees and supporters. The other half was concerned residents of Pepeʻekeo and Hāmākua, and environmentalists.
State officials and Hū Honua executives first gave an overview on the permit applications and the bioenergy project, which is nearing completion at the site of the old power plant in Pepeʻekeo. Then, there was a public question and answer session. Audience members shared concerns and put project officials on the spot about the effects the facility will have on the surrounding area.
Some residents wanted to know more about a spill that occurred last week. Hū Honua officials acknowledged there was an inadvertent spill, said the chemical solution that was released was neutralized, and confirmed that they are currently under investigation for the incident. A man who identified himself as a worker at the Hū Honua project interjected, saying that the company knew what it was doing and that the “7,000 gallons that [Hū Honua] claimed that it discharged into the ocean was just a fraction.”