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Kauai pesticide bill will have public hearing

By Rosemarie Bernardo

LAST UPDATED: 2:14 a.m. HST, Jun 27, 2013

The Kauai County Council unanimously voted 7-0 Wednesday night to hold a public hearing on a proposed ordinance to regulate pesticide use by agricultural farms. 

Members passed the first reading of Bill 2491 which would prohibit pesticide use near schools, hospitals and waterways. Councilman Gary Hooser introduced the measure due to concerns raised about the effects of pesticides on the community and environment.

The 1:30 p.m. public hearing on the issue will be held on July 31. Council Chairman Jay Furfaro said a venue will be selected due to the community interest on the issue.

Community members packed the council chambers Wednesday to testify on the first reading of the proposed ordinance. About 170 people were signed up to testify, prompting many to defer their testimony until the public hearing. 

The draft bill calls for commercial agricultural farms to disclose the type and amount of pesticides they use. A buffer zone will also be created to prohibit use of experimental and restricted use pesticides within 500 feet — the distance of almost two football fields — of any school, hospital, residential area, public roadway, stream, river or shoreline. 

The bill also calls for a ban on open-air testing of experimental pesticides and a temporary moratorium on experimental use and commercial production of genetically modified organisms until the county conducts an environmental impact statement. 

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