Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar
More on the U.S. Army’s assessment of the High Altitude Mountainous Environmental Training – or HAMET – planned for Mauna Kea.
As we have been reporting all week, the U.S. Army recently invited local media onto the Pohakuloa Training Area base, offering to answer questions about the data collecting for the HAMET environmental assessment process.
One question from the public that we relayed to the officials had to do with emergency measures.
In January, we interviewed Hanalei “Hank” Fergerstrom about the planned exercises. Hank is a staunch defender of Native Hawaiian rights, and he was particularly troubled by a portion of the first draft EA that discussed an accidental oil spill.
From the current draft EA (4.6.3):
The only potential impact to groundwater would be through the contamination of an aquifer. If an emergency (i.e., mechanical failure, crash, or missed landings) were to result in a spill, it would likely be uncontainable due to the high permeability and percolation rates through the porous lava rock. Therefore, it would be likely for a spill to percolate through the lava rock and possibly contaminate an aquifer below. However, the groundwater level is near sea level and is, therefore, very far below the ground surface where high-altitude training would occur. Therefore, the potential for the Action Alternatives to degrade water quality is less than significant.
Fergerstrom says an environmental impact statement is needed. We asked the army what they thought about those concerns, and they said the likelihood of an accident resulting in a fuel or oil spill is minimal, and certainly less than any other vehicle traffic already travelling on the mountain.