Emergency proclamation for eruption extended

Mayor Harry Kim extended the emergency proclamation for the Kilauea eruption through Dec. 29.

The extension states that entering the lava flow field is prohibited unless authorized by Hawaii County Civil Defense.

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“No physical modification to the lava flow fields are allowed, including but not limited to, clearing, crushing or the removal or infill of the lava flow field surface with the intent to establish roads, trails, driveways or clearings for any purpose,” the proclamation reads.

The extension removes the 50-yard buffer area.

The action follows the mayor’s agreement to extend two checkpoints in lower Puna for another month.

Jan-Guard Hawaii, the private security company, has the contract for the checkpoints.

Kim has said the contract costs the county about $100,000 a month.

Talmadge Magno, county Civil Defense administrator, said the cost for each checkpoint — one at Leilani Avenue and Highway 130, and another near Highway 132 and Nanawale Estates — ranges from $12,500 to $14,000 per week.

At least two security guards must be present at both locations around the clock. For the Leilani checkpoint, their duties include checking placards for people entering the subdivision, where the eruption started May 3, and keeping track of who goes in.

Magno said he would consider the cost to be equitable to maintain a 24-hour presence at two locations.

“The service they are providing, it’s definitely lesser than having police or National Guard out there,” he said.

Checkpoints were initially manned by police and the Hawaii National Guard. Private security took over the Highway 132 checkpoint in August and the one for Leilani in September, Magno said.

Leilani residents requested the county maintain the checkpoint for their subdivision because of concerns that looters would take advantage of empty homes and there being an influx of visitors seeking to hike to the fissures. Leilani Avenue is a county road.

The fissures stopped erupting lava in September but remain hazardous.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been covering 75 percent of the security costs, Kim previously said.

Magno said the county will seek reimbursement for the contract extension.

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He said Jan-Guard received the contract through an emergency procurement.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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