Cease & Desist Order on PacWest

SOURCE: KauaiInfo (halepulekauai@gmail.com)
 SUBHEAD: Undisclosed handling of asbestos, hazmat, & lead at Superfund Site at Kekaha Sugar Mill.  

Press release from Anne Sullivan on 5 April 2011 - 

Image above: The Kekaha Sugar Mill in 2003. Photo bt Christopher Becker. From (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kekaha_sugar_mill.jpg).

 Kekaha leaders file complaint and demand cease and desisit order against PacWest. A diverse group of Kekaha leaders have filed official complaints with several agencies of the Hawaii Department of Health against Pacific West Energy LLC, Pacific West Energy Kauai LLC, and its contractors (“PacWest”) for their activities at the Superfund-designated Kekaha Sugar Mill site.

 According to the complaints, PacWest and the sugar company owners have failed to adequately disclose to the community and to regulators the levels of toxic material within the Superfund site. The complaints also state that PacWest, without adequate public warning or regulatory permissions, has been dismantling, hauling, and disposing hazardous material-laden mill contents and disturbing toxic airborne particulates that threaten the lives of Kekaha residents.

 PacWest may also have excavated at the site despite prior Superfund reports of groundwater contamination directly under the sugar mill. Asbestos and lead are among the many contaminants known to exist at this site, though the extent of their levels remains undisclosed.

Kekaha community leaders are demanding that a more careful and publicly accountable assessment of the levels of toxic and hazardous materials, especially asbestos and lead, be made before any further work is done at the site. The complaint also lists several actions that should be taken by the Department of Health agencies, including an order for a full Environmental Impact Statement and inclusion of community leaders at site inspections, that can ensure PacWest’s accountability and substantive community input.

“We refuse to accept secrecy about toxins in Kekaha and the westside,” said Mary Jean Buza-Sims, President of the Kekaha organization, E Ola Mau Na Leo O Kekaha, and one of the complaint signatories, “How can a project be called 'green' and 'sustainable' if it makes our Hawaiian communities toxic?" Currently workers are not wearing masks or protective gear, and the sugar mill structure is open and unsealed, dispersing toxic matter in this windy westside town.

There are no visible permits or notices posted at the site. Residents and pedestrians have noticed an astringent, metallic smell emanating from all sides of the toxic site, especially during high wind periods. Many residents are experiencing sore throats and coughs at a noticeably higher rate than in the past.

The sugar mill is located in the middle of Kekaha town, across the street from residential homes of young families. The mill sits only blocks away from schools, churches, and a food market, along a main pedestrian and bike thoroughfare. Small children attend Hawaiian dance and music classes less than 100 feet from the site. PacWest’s activity at the Kekaha Sugar Mill is part of its larger plan to create an energy “plantation” according to its published statements.

The mill would serve as a burning and processing plant for local vegetation, though PacWest has not yet obtained any land rights to grow its biomass feedstock. According to its published statements, PacWest and its strategic partners maintain close relationships with major oil companies, including ChevronTexaco and Shell. For more information on the Kekaha leaders’ complaint, please call the numbers listed below.

Mary Jean Buza-Sims, 808-346-2342
Margaret Simola, 808-337-1805
Patrick Perriera, 808-652-4906


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