Senate measure targets fireworks smuggling

Published: Feb. 15, 2016 at 3:08 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2016 at 11:31 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state's growing illegal fireworks problem is prompting legislation targeting smugglers.

A measure now making its way through the state Senate calls for random inspections of cargo containers and the use of explosive sniffing dogs on the state's waterfronts.

"This past New Year's there was a major increase in illegal aerial throughout Oahu," said state Sen. Will Espero, (D) Ewa Beach. "What I know from the illegal fireworks task force from a few years ago is that we have some gaps and holes in our inspections in the shipping container processes."

Between November and December, Honolulu police received more than 3,000 complaints about fireworks this year, including one incident where a historic home in Ewa caught fire.

Lawmakers believe that most of the illegal fireworks originate in Asian and are smuggled into Hawaii's ports after they first go to the West Coast. Much of that winds up in residential areas where they are stored illegally. Earlier this year, police seized more than 2,200 pounds of illegal aerials that was hidden in a home in Waipahu.

The inspections would be paid for by a $1 fee on each shipping container starting in July. That fee would jump to $2 per container in next July. Federal funds could also be tapped lawmakers said.

However, shipping companies and their unions worry that the inspections will slow down traffic at Hawaii's busy ports and create safety problems for inspectors.

The bill was heard last week by the Public Safety and Transportation committees, which will take up the matter again on Tuesday.

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