Pork or Priority? Hawaii Appropriations in Question

Senator Dan Inouye
Senator Dan Inouye

(KHNL) - They claim your elected leaders have wasted more than 13 billion dollars on more than 26 hundred pork barrel projects over the past year.

A Washington watch dog group, Citizens Against Government Waste, recently released its annual pork barrel spending report and it takes aim at Hawaii Senator Dan Inouye; saying he's stuffed pork into defense and homeland security appropriations bills.

Among the local projects identified by the group is 20 million for an army environmental program. Another is 4.5 million for bandages made from shrimp shells.

For the last decade two doctors now based here in Honolulu researched ways to save the lives of U.S. soldiers by stopping bleeding in the war zone.

They found a miraculous remedy in nature; shrimp skeletons.

Whether they're injured by bullet or bombs, scientists are keeping soldiers from bleeding to death on the battlefield.

Doctors William Wiesmann and Kenton Gregory invented life-saving bandage technology.

Wiesmann explains, "This very, very small bandage can actually be used to stop the bleeding from a gunshot wound even something as small as this."

Gregory confirms, "When we stuck it on there it just miraculously stopped the bleeding."

"After the bandage was being produced and shipped to Afghanistan and Iraq and the data started coming in on how many lives we were saving, Senator Inouye and his staff were interested where we were getting our raw material and how we could make the bandage even better to use internally in the body," adds Wiesmann.

It's made from shrimp shells reports Wiesmann, "This chitosan part of the shell in the shrimp will protect the animal from bacterial invasion."

There are some very big developments happening right here in the Hawaii research facility. This natural molecule derived from shrimp shells will soon be able to treat burn victims and prevent infection.

Dr. Kenton Gregory shares, "What we are doing here in Hawaii is using ultra clean Hawaii shrimp shells which is the natural source and purifying the chitosan to make all sorts of medical product."

And when asked about being on the pork report, Gregory concludes, "It was a good investment, many lives have been saved and the taxpayers are going to get millions and millions more than they ever invested."

They say local research using ultrapure chitosan to kill avian flu, e-coli and flesh-eating bacteria looks promising.

Senator Inouye's office says just because these dollars don't appear in the President's budget don't make these projects any less worthwhile.