YPDA demands Hu Honua project adhere to strictest environmental standards


Hold up on Hu Honua

From the Environmental Justice Action Committee:

Aloha Department of Health Clean Water Branch,

My name is Jun Shin and I am from Honolulu. I am a freshman at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. I currently serve as the Environmental Justice Action Committee Chair for Young Progressives Demanding Action (YPDA). YPDA represents more than 1,000 Hawaiʻi residents, mostly of Honolulu, who seek to build a Hawaiʻi that is just, equitable and sustainable.

I am not a resident of Hawaiʻi Island, but Hū Honua is still very much a concern for me. As an environmental justice advocate, I am fighting against climate change, and working on issues related to our water and land, so that future generations of our islands will enjoy our natural resources as we have. All these issues come to a head here with Hū Honua. Alongside this, as a citizen, it is a part of our responsibility to hold the decision makers of our society, both elected and appointed accountable. 

As it has been pointed out by environmental organizations, and Claudia Rohr who is suing the County of Hawaiʻi in a civil suit in order to have an environmental review of Hu Honua, the area has served as a great place for recreational activities. The Pepeʻekeo Point area, which is right there in the construction zone, is 4 miles of public access trails that have been used for such activities as diving and fishing.

Hū Honua is currently running storm water through another landowner's drainage system. What happens is that this mixes with storm water runoff from a coal ash pile, and when it is discharged by force at Outfall 003, it results in contamination. This puts the cliff and shoreline trails at risk of continuous erosion.

Looking deeper into the effects of this runoff on water, this brings a whole other set of problems. One of these concerns that sticks out to me is the addition of chemicals like morpholine, carbohydrazide, and sodium nitrate, which the manufacturers themselves gave serious warnings against mixing in both waterways and aquatic ecosystems. These chemicals are being added to the water even before Hu Honua uses its injection wells. This is serious. If you look at sodium nitrate, for example, ingestion of the substance can result in: “Abdominal pain. Blue lips, fingernails and skin. Convulsions. Diarrhoea. Dizziness. Headache. Laboured breathing. Confusion. Nausea. Unconsciousness.” 

This is simply wrong. The health and safety of area residents is at risk. A continued emphasis needs to be made that water is life. You can’t eat or drink money and we need to have a serious discussion on the immorality of seeking profit when people's health and the health of the land is at stake.

The project needs to meet both National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and Underground Injection Control standards and must satisfy the requirements of both before moving forward. Moving forward without these permits would be highly irresponsible. And with the stakes being as high as they are, the project must have an Environmental Impact Study completed before moving forward. Proper accountability of Hū Honua is a bare minimum standard that projects of this impact must meet. 

The 1978 Constitutional Convention added to Article XI, Section 1 of the Hawaiʻi State Constitution's section regarding Conservation, Control and Development of Resources the following language: “All public natural resources are held in trust by the State for the benefit of the people.” I ask that our leaders follow through with this sacred responsibility that they have been entrusted with when deliberating on Hū Honua. Please serve to further the interests of the people and work to create a better future for Hawaiʻi.

#JusticeOrBust #EOlaIKaWai,

Jun Shin
YPDA Environmental Justice Action Committee Chair

Written statements on this project will be accepted until 5:30 pm on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, at cleanwaterbranch@doh.hawaii.gov or at P.O. Box 3378, Honolulu, Hawaii 96801-3378. Learn more about the project here.