Is the Dept of Health Clean Air Branch Misleading Public on HC&S Mill Emissions?

In a letter to the Clean Air Branch of the State Department of Health and the EPA, citizen investigator and attorney Christine Andrews harshly criticized what she (and others) consider misleading statements by Clean Air Branch head Nolan Harai.

I am concerned that Mr. Hirai is making factual misstatements to the media, and would like to request that he formally retract or correct his statements.

The following statement printed in an article in the Star Advertiser, and attributed to Mr. Hirai:

“Though the violations are serious, DOH said emissions did not exceed levels protecting public health based on the agency’s continuous air quality monitoring in the area.”

“There is no indication that any of the emissions resulted in any health impact,” said Nolan Hirai, manager of DOH’s Clean Air Branch.

As I have discussed with Mr. Hirai, Mr. Sims, and Mr. Drake, there is NO ambient air quality monitoring for SO2 or NOx on Maui that would detect ambient air quality impacts of excess emissions of those pollutants by the HC&S Puunene Mill.

The HC&S Puunene Mill which burns about 1/3 coal and 2/3 sugarcane bagass was recently cited for emissions violations after Andrews’ two year investigation and repeated attempts to get Dept of Health to enforce the Clean Air Act.  (Notice of Violation)

Sounds like Andrews is pretty fed up with the Department of Health’s foot dragging and dissembling:

I understand that Mr. Hirai does not have the time, inclination, funding, staffing, legal and regulatory experience to learn the public health justifications for the 2010 SO2 ambient air quality standard as published in the EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis for the new standard, or access to modeling that documents that the HC&S Puunene Mill violates that standard and that my home is in the emissions plume.

At the very least, however, Mr. Hirai should understand, because his department completed the Notice of Violation, that there were excess SO2 and NOx emissions and that those emissions would have health impacts.  He should stop cowering behind the lack of ambient air quality monitoring as a shield, and install the monitoring for SO2 and NOx that myself and others have asked for for two years.  While you all are at it, please enforce the Clean Air Act and get HC&S to install the required COMS and CEMS that the community has also been asking for for more than two years.

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