WAILUKU, Maui >> Hawaii Commercial & Sugar Co. is not admitting fault under a proposed settlement that reduces a $1.3 million air quality and reporting fine tied to Puunene Mill to $600,000.
The $600,000 would go toward the state, the University of Hawaii’s Vog Measurement and Prediction Project, and the creation of stations measuring air quality at three Maui schools, the Maui News reported.
The public will have 30 days to comment. Any changes require approval from both the company and Health Department.
Health officials can still set a hearing if the department determines the settlement is inappropriate.
Company general manager Rick Volner said the plantation will monitor air quality during sugar cane burning.
Vog levels spreading from Kilauea Volcano are currently monitored, with data available online.
“Volcanic gas emissions pose significant environmental and health risks to nearby communities,” the tentative agreement said. “Thus far, the risk posed by volcanic emission hazards has been mitigated by health officials and emergency managers through public education.”
Volner said the Health Department will take over ownership of the monitoring equipment at the schools after the plantation’s last harvest.
“HC&S believes that the terms of the proposed settlement provide for a fair and appropriate resolution of this matter,” he said. “Resolution of this matter enables HC&S to focus our resources on supporting our employees during this time of transition, completing the final sugar cane harvest and beginning the shift of our operations to a diversified agricultural future.”