6 protesters arrested as more wind farm equipment transported to Kahuku
KALAELOA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Additional arrests were made late Tuesday into early Wednesday as crews transported more heavy equipment into a construction site for a wind farm project in Kahuku.
Six people were taken into custody: Four in Kalaeloa and two in Kahuku.
The convoy carrying the equipment made the trip from Kalaeloa to Kahuku relatively quickly on Wednesday morning.
Since last Thursday, 107 people have been arrested.
From late Monday into early Tuesday, three wind farm opponents were arrested in Kalaeloa and three more were arrested in Kahuku, where the equipment arrived.
Late last week, police arrested 55 people who attempted to block the first convoy of turbine parts in Kalaeloa and Kahuku. Then, 40 more arrests were made from Sunday night into Monday morning.
On Sunday night, opponents of the Na Pua Makani project joined themselves together with zip ties and duct tape in Kalaeloa in West Oahu. One man even chained himself to a cattle gate.
The equipment was transported to the North Shore smoothly, with no obstacles along the way. But more people were gathered in Kahuku in attempt to block the convoy from entering the construction site.
Authorities said five women and eight men were chained to fencing as the convoy arrived.
“I wasn’t planning on getting arrested, but as I was watching what was going on in Kalealoa and just being here, I felt in my naau this was the right thing to do was stand in aloha and stand to protect this land," said Tevita Kaili, who was arrested in Kahuku.
“We want our voice to be heard. We’ll do what we need to do to show we care about this aina,” he added.
The turbines were successfully moved into the construction zone before 5:30 a.m. — a fairly quick process in comparison to last week, which took hours due in part to crews needing to repair a utility pole that had been cut down on Kamehameha Highway near Turtle Bay. Police said the pole was intentionally brought down in an attempt to block the wind farm convoy from getting to its destination.
AES Hawaii was scheduled to transport their wind turbine equipment between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Friday.
Meanwhile, police have opened a criminal property damage investigation after anchor bolts, which are part of the turbine’s foundation, were damaged in Kahuku.
Police say before 8 a.m. Sunday, one or more suspects with a blow torch cut through a 2-foot-long foundation bolt and damaged another before fleeing brush area leading to Kahuku High School. Security tried to track a male suspect with a drone, but lost him.
Police say damage to the anchor bolts is up $400,000.
The company says it's working with HPD on the act of vandalism.
“The incident, while troubling, will not impact the ongoing work to transport and construct the Na Pua Makani wind project,” said Mark Miller, chief operating officer for the AES US Generation businesses in a statement.
The company plans to build eight turbines.
Once the wind farm is operational in 2020, the facility is expected to produce enough renewable energy to power 16,000 homes.
Critics, however, are concerned about potential health effects and the killing of native wildlife such as the Hawaiian hoary bat.
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