Stop Cane Burning on Maui

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Cane burning on Maui is getting worse as HC&S’s parent company A&B and other developers urbanize what used to be cane fields.  Unlike the mainland where ag burning is conducted far from towns, Maui is a small island and the cane smoke is choking towns for 9 months out of the year.  In 2011, due to HC&S’s reckless disregard of weather conditions, a number of new lung disease cases were diagnosed. Physicians put the blame on cane smoke.  Because HC&S burned during inversion layers and on windless days, choking smoke descended on our towns causing residents to literally flee their homes.

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Cane smoke is responsible for highway crashes

June 18, 2013
The Maui News

On June 11 [2013] at about 5:30 a.m., my son and I were driving to Lahaina.

After we passed the Maui Lani subdivision, we saw a glow up ahead on Kuihelani Highway. Cane fires are common here, but I was shocked that the fire was so close to the road.

As I approached, I slowed and saw the other cars around us did the same. We were immediately engulfed in smoke and it was impossible to see even 2 feet in front of us.

With the smoke so thick and completely covering the road, there was no way for cars to see or drive safely. We were hit from behind and we heard another crash in the thick of the smoke.

I don’t know what Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. was doing that morning, or if anyone was trying to control this fire, but it seems pretty obvious that something went wrong, and HC&S was negligent in keeping this burning safe for the community.

I think we deserve some answers.

Dawna Richmond
Haiku

[Note that there were two car crashes reported in this area at this time]

In 2012, despite what HC&S says are its best efforts, most every smoke plume eventually collapsed over a population center.  Ma’alaea and North Kihei were particularly hard hit.  The Department of Health, which issues the open air burn permit annually, agrees that most every plume will collapse at the end of the burn and drop to ground level.  And yet they continue to allow burns and tell us that HC&S met their standard of “miminization”.  Minimization is a vague word that means nothing and most certainly does not mean that no smoke dropped down on our towns.

Maui has an epidemic of asthma and reactive airway disease, caused mostly by cane smoke.  Not only does this affect our health and quality of life but it is literally killing our children.  Asthma can be a dangerous disease and some of us have lost loved ones to an asthma attack.  Most of us have watched over a loved one as they struggled to breathe from an attack.

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It is not acceptable that HC&S continue these destructive farming practices.  We call upon County, State and Federal regulators to end agricultural burning on Maui.

Please sign our petition and let us know if you have a story to tell for our contemplated lawsuit.  Please also document any time you make a smoke complaint because it appears that HC&S has…er…missed several hundred complaints when they applied for their annual burning permit.

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