Monday June 24, 2019
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Hawaii Could Face Volcanic Smog, Acid Rain

An influx of groundwater could interact with the lava and create steam explosions, it added

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Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago.
Scientists have been in the field measuring the eruptions 24 hours a day, seven days a week since Kilauea first exploded more than two months ago. Pixabay

Following the eruption of the Kilauea volcano, residents of Hawaii’s Big Island will now have to deal with steam-driven explosions, hazardous volcanic smog and acid rain, the US Geological Survey (USGS) has warned.

The USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Wednesday warned of possible explosive eruptions in the coming weeks because as the lava continues to sink in a lake inside a Kilauea crater, reports CNN.

An influx of groundwater could interact with the lava and create steam explosions, it added.

Those forces would emit “ballistic projectiles” — as small as pebbles or weighing up to several tonnes.

The USGS also said ash clouds would rise to greater elevations, dispensing ash over wider areas.

“At this time, we cannot say with certainty that explosive activity will occur, how large the explosions could be, or how long such explosive activity could continue,” an advisory said.

Representational image.
Representational image. Wikimedia Commons

Governor David Ige has asked President Donald Trump to issue a disaster declaration for Hawaii as a result of the ongoing earthquakes and volcano eruption, according to a press release.

The declaration allows federal funds to begin to flow to state and local efforts in Hawaii.

The estimated cost to protect residents over the next 30 days is expected to exceed $2.9 million, according to the governor’s office.

A brief explosion on Wednesday on a Kilauea crater was the result of falling rocks and not the interaction of lava with the water table, the USGS said.

Also Read: Earthquake Then Volcano, There is No Relief For the Hawaii Residents

The Kilauea eruption last week created new volcanic vents on the ground miles east of the summit, releasing slow-moving lava and toxic gas into island communities.

Officials have warned of dangerous levels of sulphur dioxide gas, CNN reported.

Following the eruption on May 1, 1,700 residents were asked to evacuate. At least 36 structures — including 26 residences — have been destroyed since then.

Residents were being allowed to check on their properties from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day but must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice, the Hawaii County Civil Defence Agency says. (IANS)

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Hawaii Weighs First State in US to Ban Plastics Used at Restaurants

Dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic foam containers, but Hawaii's measure would make it the first to do so statewide

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Belinda Lau, manager of the Wiki Wiki Drive Inn takeout restaurant in Honolulu, holds a polystyrene foam box containing an order of roast pork, rice and salad, March 14, 2019. VOA

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.

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Activists believe the foam container measure has a better chance of passing in Hawaii. VOA

“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.

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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. Pixabay

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.

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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. Pixabay

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.

ALSO READ: Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

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)