HILO >> A letter from the state Department of Agriculture about channeling lava down a road in Puna contains incorrect information, Hawaii County’s civil defense director said.
Since scientists began warning the public about the Kilauea volcano lava flow in August, Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira has insisted there are no plans to divert the flow because doing so could affect other areas.
But an Oct. 29 letter from the Department of Agriculture warned those who lease lots in the Pahoa Agricultural Park about an effort to channel the flow down Kahakai Boulevard “to try and control the direction of the flow.” The letter warned that a significant portion of the road would be impassable.
That information is incorrect, Oliveira said.
The letter was a result of miscommunication and a corrected version would be drafted Friday, Ken Kakesako, deputy to the chairman of the department, told Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
“It was not consistent with what the county has been saying,” Kakesako said. “We are very much aware of that, and we apologize for the miscommunication.”
Farmer Ken Kudo said the letter made him worried that the county is secretly planning to divert the lava. “The things is, that I had always been thinking, let’s keep it (the lava) away from Kahakai, but when I read (the letter) I said, ‘Oh no, what’s happening here? I wonder if the county is actually doing that.’ “
Oliveira said he has explained to farmers that there are discussions about possibly tearing away a portion of Highway 130 once lava reaches it to provide a channel through which the lava can continue on its path toward the ocean.