Environmental impact of popular Waikiki fireworks show being studied

Updated: Mar. 3, 2017 at 6:58 AM HST
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WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the last three decades, the 4.5-minute fireworks display that happens every Friday night has been launched from the elbow on Duke's Beach. But last fall, a state land board member started asking questions and raising concerns about the potential environmental impact of fireworks debris on the beach area, and in an agreement with Hilton officials, the show was temporarily moved to the Duke Kahanamoku lagoon.

No official complaints were filed, but the land board did ask the Hilton to move at least three of their Friday night shows to the lagoon area and to begin documenting any fireworks debris cleanup on the beach, in the parking lot by the fence and in the water. This is essentially a voluntary feasibility study for a possible relocation of future fireworks shows if a significant environmental impact is discovered.

In May, hotel officials and Hawaii Explosives and Pyrotechnics, the company that does the fireworks show for the Hilton, will appear before the land board to present their findings. To clarify, this was not an enforcement action, but something the Hilton agreed to do for the land board. The three "test" showings were completed in February.

Jerry Gibson, area vice president for the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki, said the hotel is committed to being good stewards of the beach and ocean, and has treated the area with ultimate care over the years.

He says every Friday night after the fireworks display, hotel crews pick up any debris that may not have exploded or any remaining packaging both on the beach and in the water. And at 6 a.m. the following day, snorkelers even go out into the ocean off Duke's beach to collect and clear debris as well.

Hotel officials say the fireworks packaging they use is biodegradable.

According to Hawaii Explosives, each Friday night show uses 1,500 to 2,000 fireworks that are shot into the air.

Hotel officials say on an average night, there are 3,000 to 5,000 people gathered for the fireworks show on the beach alone, but an estimated 100,000 people are believed to watch it every Friday night from Waikiki and surrounding areas.

Again, the testing from the temporary location at the Duke Kahanamoku lagoon is now complete, but whether it may have to move back here or somewhere else isn't likely to be decided until sometime this summer.

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