HILO, Hawaii – Some residents of Keaukaha and Panaewa are calling for greater scrutiny – some say environmental justice – in regards to the toxic industries that surround their neighborhoods.
According to Terri Napeahi, there are six different “Toxic Release Inventory” entities bordering Keaukaha, a Hawaiian Home lands community by Hilo Bay. They Environmental Protection Agency-regulated entities are the Hilo Airport, a Wastewater Treatment plant, gas storage companies, Hilo Harbor activities, a HELCO power plant, and the county Landfill.
Napeahi arranged a public meeting on Friday evening at the Keaukaha school cafeteria to talk about her concerns, which have intensified recently as the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands looks to provide infill and rehabilitation housing opportunities within the neighborhood.
“I believe that residents from Keaukaha (Hawaiian Homes) have been impacted cumulatively for years,” she wrote on Facebook prior to the meeting, “and deserve a health study done by our agencies and hold accountable the companies that have impacted the lives of the families… for decades!”
Napeahi asked others to come and weigh-in on her concerns. PBR Hawaii consultant Roy Takemoto, DHHL Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act Manager Niniau Simmons, John Peard with the Hawaii Department of Health HEER (Hazard Evaluation & Emergency Response), and Civil Defense administrator Ed Teixeira were in attendance.