(Big Island Video News) PUNA, Hawaii – A buffer zone of 1,400 feet will be instituted around the Popoki Impact Area if lava should one day reach the borders of the former World War II era-training range. This week, Hawaii County Civil Defense confirmed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a recommended 1,322 foot buffer zone (the county is going with a larger zone) due to the probability that there could be munitions in the area. The buffer zone means that if lava reaches the Popoki area in the Makuu Farm Lots, there will be evacuations of homes within 1,400 feet of the area.
Concerns were raised last week when a long, narrow lobe of lava burned its way into a drainage area leading to a steepest-descent path that crosses Highway 130 about .6 miles south of the Makuʻu Farmer’s Market. Since that time, a different breakout emerged to threaten Highway 130 farther to the south, and the lobe threatening Makuu has become more sluggish.
A spokesperson for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has informed Big Island Video News that DHHL staff met with civil defense at the beginning of December and again this week in regards to the lava flow and UXO (unexploded ordnance). Last week, DHHL staff also did a site visit to the Water Well and flow front.
DHHL says that although the Army Corps finished work on Popoki, they are continuing to monitor the former target area under Long Term Management.
Hawaiian Home Lands says they will be back to provide updates to homestead communities in Waimea (no stranger to UXO concerns) on January 27 to and Makuu on January 28.