A massive quake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale jolted Hawaii residents were evacuating from their homes following a volcanic eruption that has not showed any signs of slowing down, authorities said.
The temblor that struck 16 km southwest of Leilani Estates at 12.32 p.m., on Friday, was one of more than 110 earthquakes that hit the island since the Kilauea volcano, one of the world’s most active, erupted on Wednesday, reports CNN.
US Geological Survey (USGS) seismologist Jana Pursley said there have been 119 earthquakes on the Big Island since Thursday afternoon.
The USGS said Friday’s 6.9 quake was the most powerful on the island since 1975.
About 14,000 customers of Hawaii Electric Light lost power immediately after the earthquake.
The quake has knocked out power to residents who were already dealing with mandatory evacuation orders, molten rock and high levels of sulphur dioxide in the air.
The situation wasn’t getting any better, Civil Defence Administrator Talmadge Magno told reporters on Friday afternoon.
“Activity continues. It doesn’t look like it is slowing down,” CNN quoted Magno as saying.
He said five volcanic vents have opened and indicated that at least one house and another structure were destroyed by lava.
It is highly unusual to see the vents so far from Kilauea volcano, he said.
Hundreds of people have evacuated from Leilani Estates, a community of about 1,700 people, and Lanipuna Gardens.
Harry Kim, Mayor of Hawaii County, said the government will support residents, including those who want to go back to their homes to pick up some belongings.
“We have to work with them as to how we are going to minimise (the inconveniences) as best as possible,” he said.
Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics used at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.
Hawaii would be the first state in the U.S. to ban most plastics at restaurants under legislation that aims to cut down on waste that pollutes the ocean.
Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii’s measure would make it the first to do so statewide. The liberal state has a history of prioritizing the environment — it’s mandated renewable energy use and prohibited sunscreen ingredients that harm coral.
A second, more ambitious proposal would go even further and prohibit fast-food and full-service restaurants from distributing and using plastic drink bottles, utensils, stirring sticks, bags and straws.
The Hawaii efforts would be stricter than in California, which last year became the first state to ban full-service restaurants from automatically giving out plastic straws, and broader than in Seattle, San Francisco and other cities that have banned some single-use plastics.
“We have this reputation of setting the example for the world to follow, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” state Sen. Mike Gabbard, lead author of the more ambitious measure, said to the Senate. “Our state can once again take the lead in protecting our environment.”
Gabbard, father of Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, said 95 percent of plastic packaging worldwide is thrown out after being used once. In the U.S., 500 million plastic straws are used and thrown out every day, he said.
Discarded, slow-to-degrade plastic is showing up at sea, as in a massive gyre northeast of the Hawaiian islands, and on beaches.
Plastics also contribute to climate change because oil is used to make them, said Stuart Coleman, Hawaii manager for the Surfrider Foundation.
Eric S.S. Wong, co-owner of two fast-food establishments on Oahu, said not being able to serve food in plastic foam containers would drive up his costs at a time when he faces rising health insurance charges for his employees and a possible minimum wage hike that lawmakers also are considering.
He said he’ll have to raise prices.
“Now all of the sudden, your family’s $30 dining experience became $37 or $38,” Wong said.
His Wiki Wiki Drive Inn takeout counter in Honolulu sells sandwiches, breakfast meals and Hawaii favorites like Loco Moco, which features white rice topped with a hamburger patty, fried egg and gravy.
A package of 200 foam boxes costs him $23, while the same number of biodegradable boxes would cost $57, he said.
Chris Yankowski of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, which represents 3,500 restaurants, said lawmakers are trying to do “too much too fast.”
Yankowski, who is also president of Triple F Distributors, argued that good alternatives to plastic products are not yet available. Hawaii’s cities and counties also don’t provide composting facilities, so there is no organized place to dispose of compostable containers that lawmakers say restaurants should use instead, he added.
“It’s almost like we want to do great things for the environment, but we’re not ready to handle it when we change it over,” Yankowski said.
The Hawaii Food Industry Association, which counts the state’s biggest supermarkets and convenience stores as members, initially opposed the foam container ban but now supports it.
The group said in written testimony that it’s encountered difficulties coping with varied local regulations and it wants the state to create a consistent standard. Two main counties — Hawaii and Maui — have already adopted plastic foam bans. Maui’s took effect on Dec. 31, while Hawaii’s takes effect on July 1.
The association still opposes the broader measure, which also would ban plastic garbage bags.
The president of Island Plastic Bags, a Hawaii company that makes plastic bags, said the legislation would prohibit his company from selling trash bags to nursing homes and hospitals as well as restaurants and hotels.
Grocery stores wouldn’t be able to sell trash can liners, Adrian Hong said in written testimony. It would create a “public health crisis,” he said.
Gabbard said his proposal was in the early stages so lawmakers have time to address such concerns.
The state Senate has passed both bills. They still must get through several House committees and the full House before heading to the governor.
Cindy McMillan, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige, said he hasn’t stated a position on the measures yet.
Justin Macia, a pharmacist in Honolulu, said he would like people to use less plastic and stop using plastic foam entirely because of how long it takes to degrade. Cardboard containers would be a great alternative, he said.
“It’s definitely something that’s got to go,” he said, after eating a sandwich from a foam takeout box. (VOA)