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Your Views for February 17
Hawaii Tribune-Herald - 2/17/2017
We love the idea of composting our Hawaii Island green and food waste. However, the composting facility should not be located in our Pana?ewa community or near any community.
For decades, our Keaukaha and Pana?ewa Hawaiian communities have been disproportionately burdened with and exposed to East Hawaii's industrial and polluting facilities. The discriminatory practice of locating these facilities in our communities is environmental racism and must stop.
Our communities live in horrific close proximity to the Hilo Wastewater Treatment Plant; sewage pump stations (which discharged 5,000 gallons of untreated wastewater along our shoreline on Jan. 24); the Hilo airport, with planes landing within yards of our community and blanketing our homes with ultra-fine sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other toxic particles on a daily basis; the unlined Hilo landfill that requires 30 years of monitoring upon closure; the 35.5-megawatt oil-fueled HELCO power plant; and a myriad hazardous storage and industrial facilities near our homes and schools.
More than 40 years of environmental justice research found clear patterns of racial and socioeconomic disparities in the distribution of polluting industrial facilities and other unwanted land uses near nonwhite and poor communities. This pattern is unequivocally evident in our East Hawaii Hawaiian communities.
The fact that Mayor Harry Kim and some council members might still consider a composting facility location near our homes confirms that the welfare of our communities continues to be ignored.
The composting facility is promoted as "green and clean," but behind the facade is the contractor's Cedar Grove parent company that is the subject of at least three class-actions lawsuits, state environmental penalties and thousands of complaints for the "revolting" and "noxious" smell permeating from their facilities.
After we confirmed the experience of the Tulalip Tribe and city of Marysville, Wash., no community should risk this type of facility so close to their homes. Just Google "Cedar Grove + smell."
Let's go green, but not on the backs of communities already trying to address the short- and long-term impacts of existing toxic facilities on the health and welfare of their families.
President, Keaukaha Pana?ewa Farmers Association
President, Pana?ewa Hawaiian Home Lands Community Association