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Kenoi backs health study for geothermal power

By Associated Press


HILO » Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi plans to implement the recommendations of a panel on geothermal power, including a proposal that the county commission a study on the public health effects of the state's only geothermal power plant.

Public safety and health is paramount, Kenoi told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald Sunday. The county needs to determine what harm, if any, is caused by geothermal power production, he said.

The mayor commissioned the group's report in response to concerns in Puna about existing geothermal development and Hawaii Electric Light Co.'s plans to expand geothermal power.

The report suggests the study examine how hydrogen sulfide, a gas that may be released into the air when geothermal wells are operated, affects health. It also proposes that the study look at whether heavy metals and chemicals from geothermal development have affected drinking water.

The Puna district is on the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano, where geothermal power has been produced since the 1970s. Geothermal power was commercialized there in the early 1990s with the start of Puna Geothermal Venture.

The 38-megawatt plant got off to a rocky start with a 1991 well blowout that released hydrogen sulfide.

Kenoi said he plans to meet with group members in the next few weeks to discuss their eight recommendations.

Previous studies have looked at the public health effects of geothermal development in Puna, but their scopes were limited.

One published in 2001 concluded that Puna residents have higher health problems normally associated with hydrogen sulfide. But the state Department of Health criticized the study for partially relying on volunteers rather than only using random samples.

Another study conducted after the 1991 blowout showed respondents complained of excessive noise, sulfur odors, eye irritations and difficulty breathing.

The group that compiled the recommendations consisted of a dozen Puna residents and was coordinated by Peter Adler of Accord Consultants.

The report was finalized Sept. 9.

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Makua wrote:
Common sense would dictate the geothermal process is contained with exhaust ports directed thru filters. The better the filter, the better "healthy" results.
on September 24,2013 | 04:43AM
Tom938 wrote:
"proposal that the county commission a study on the public health effects of the state's only geothermal power plant." Can't they just send an intern to the library (oops, my bad) or google 'geo-thermal power' to see how other countries such as Iceland, Greenland, Sweden, Norway and more operate their plants? I'm pretty sure these studies have been done before and are on record. Every time I hear or see "commission a study" in the news I cringe at the waste of tax monies associated with these governmental studies.
on September 24,2013 | 05:42AM
TTPwr wrote:
And if a thorough scientific study is done and the finding is that there are no significant detrimental health effects caused by the geothermal operation the opponents will say "Gee, I guess we were wrong" and move on with their lives. JUST KIDDING!
on September 24,2013 | 07:47AM
allie wrote:
Kenoi is an anti-science dude who is being pressured by ideologues. Meanwhile, stay on oil Billie if you think that is healthier.
on September 24,2013 | 10:13AM
Slow wrote:
His name is Billy. Billie is a female spelling, Ally. Aside from not knowing his name, I am sure you fully comprehend his approach to science. I saw a guy leaving the hardware store in Pahoa with a shirt that read "I Make Stuff Up." Wasn't you on your fact-finding mission to Puna was it?
on September 25,2013 | 07:24AM
allie wrote:
nope..never been there
on September 25,2013 | 11:04AM
Slow wrote:
There are probably many reasons to not try to learn the facts about geothermal. "Too expensive for the taxpayers." "Opponents won't believe the results." "Political pressure." So far these three have been cited by my fellow commentators. I have a bias towards fact-based decision making, especially political decisions. Thank you, Mayor Kenoi, for listening to and responding to, the concerns of your constituency. Let's find out the truth and act accordingly.
on September 25,2013 | 07:21AM
allie wrote:
but let us not be Slow about it!
on September 25,2013 | 11:05AM
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