Maui Cane Burning Controversy - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Maui Cane Burning Controversy

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

An environmental group wants to put an end to cane burning on Maui. StopCaneBurning.org says smoke from operations at HC&S, Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar company, is making residents sick and could potentially cause life-threatening illness. On Wednesday, the two sides met to discuss concerns at the HC&S office in Puunene.

Where there's smoke, there's fire, and the organization claims this issue has been heating up for decades. Members delivered a petition with more than 8,700 signatures to both HC&S and the state Department of Health - asking officials not to issue an open-air burn permit to the 140 year old company.

Karen Chun from StopCaneBurning.org describes the problem, "Last year, when there was a really, really bad cane burn - several of them in Paia - where the smoke literally smothered people - as in, it was like your house was on fire."

The group says it has a number of peer-review published papers that link cane smoke to lung disease, especially for seniors and children. Its website claims the sugar company - the last one remaining in Hawaii - burns with "reckless disregard" to weather conditions. In response, HC&S says it's listened and tried to balance the public's health concerns while maintaining an 800 employee operation.

HC&S General Manager, Rick Volner, Jr. explains, "We've done a lot of more advanced notification this year for people to find out, in advance, where and when we will be burning, and we've done improved weather collection data and analysis. We've also modified our burning practices to try to minimize impacts to neighbors."

Hawaii News Now did some checking, and the DOH says HC&S continues to meet state and federal regulations on its 36,000 acres.

"They have to provide to us what exactly they're going to be burning, when they're going to be burning, the duration of the burning and the specific agricultural purpose," says DOH spokeswoman, Janice Okubo.

The two sides say Wednesday's talks were productive; although, they agree to disagree on how best to move forward on the issue. HC&S' annual permit is up in mid-March. Stopcaneburning.org says it's contemplating a lawsuit, if the agricultural burns aren't banned.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

  • Hawaii News Now headlinesNewsMore>>

  • Tsunami Watch issued for Hawaii following large quake off Alaska

    Tsunami Watch issued for Hawaii following large quake off Alaska

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 5:08 AM EST2018-01-23 10:08:09 GMT
    (Image: PTWC)(Image: PTWC)

    A Tsunami Watch has been issued for Hawaii following a large 8.0-magnitude quake off Alaska.

    More >>

    A Tsunami Watch has been issued for Hawaii following a large 8.0-magnitude quake off Alaska.

    More >>
  • An effort to document every homeless person in the state underway

    An effort to document every homeless person in the state underway

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 3:49 AM EST2018-01-23 08:49:22 GMT
    (Image: Hawaii News Now)(Image: Hawaii News Now)

    Hundreds of volunteers spent Monday night fanning out across the state for the annual 'point-in-time' homeless count.

    More >>

    Hundreds of volunteers spent Monday night fanning out across the state for the annual 'point-in-time' homeless count.

    More >>
  • Maui county begins nearly $2M project to repair Piilani Highway

    Maui county begins nearly $2M project to repair Piilani Highway

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 3:39 AM EST2018-01-23 08:39:14 GMT
    (Image: Maui County)(Image: Maui County)

    Nearly a year after a landslide in Kipahulu, repairs are getting underway to fix parts of Piilani Highway at the Nuanualoa Gulch. The repairs are part of a 7-month-long, nearly $2 million project. Daily road closures will begin February 5th as Hawaiian Dredging Construction crews bring in equipment to build a retaining wall, put up guard rails and complete other safety measures. Closures will take place between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.  Project work began Mond...

    More >>

    Nearly a year after a landslide in Kipahulu, repairs are getting underway to fix parts of Piilani Highway at the Nuanualoa Gulch. The repairs are part of a 7-month-long, nearly $2 million project. Daily road closures will begin February 5th as Hawaiian Dredging Construction crews bring in equipment to build a retaining wall, put up guard rails and complete other safety measures. Closures will take place between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.  Project work began Mond...

    More >>
Powered by Frankly