Your Views for February 11

Hu Honua’s tricks

The letter by Don Bryan (Tribune Herald, Feb. 5) requires an immediate response.

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This company has done its best to avoid installing best available control technology, or BACT, pollution controls.

How do I know this? When this project first applied for the Clean Air Permit at the Environmental Protection Agency, I reviewed this document very carefully during the public comment period. You have to understand that EPA has different rules for “minor sources” of pollution and “major sources” which are required to have BACT installed, leading to higher costs of construction and monitoring.

Therefore the consultant in California who developed the clean air application made careful calculations, starting with a certain quantity of wood to be burned, then using some dubious empirical factors developed at other biomass plants, to come up with the predicted emissions and — LO AND BEHOLD — the emissions came out just a hair under the maximum permissible for a “minor source.” Therefore, the plant was limited to producing 21.5 megawatts and no more. Amazing.

The EPA at the time questioned this claim to be a “minor source,” but then inexplicably turned the final decision about the permit over to the Clean Air Branch of the Hawaii Department of Health, which gave it the green light. The whole thing was designed to mislead the public of Hamakua and the rest of the island.

I have not heard that Hu Honua has ever agreed to install BACT, but I have seen it mentioned several times during the past year as being a 30-megawatt plant, which would of course require a lot more wood to be burned. But more recently, we are back to 21.5 megawatts, and that is what it says in the air permit.

The President Trump-era EPA and our Clean Air Branch are not going to protect us from unscrupulous operators who will do whatever is convenient, just like the recent spill of toxic water, which only came to light because of a whistleblower.

We urgently need a proper environmental assessment of this project! Previous planning directors of this county have avoided this under various pretexts. Demand that this be done immediately before we all suffer the consequences.

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Adrienne S. Dey

Hilo

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