Geothermal safety report expected this week


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

A group formed to assess health and safety issues associated with geothermal energy will release a draft report of its findings later this week.

Peter Adler, hired by Hawaii County to guide the effort, said the report will be posted online no later than Saturday.

It will include recommendations for actions for both the county and state.

“It will include a set of background information, some findings and some recommendations,” Adler said.

The document will be about 45 pages long without attachments, he said.

While the recommendations were reached largely by consensus, group members will be allowed to attach their own comments to the report, Adler said.

The group consists of a dozen Puna residents with various backgrounds, including medicine, engineering and community activism.

It held its first meeting in January.

Adler said he initially was expecting the work to wrap up in three or four months.

“It spread out a little bit longer than we thought,” he said.

“We tried to be pretty conclusive. We wanted to do a very thorough job … so we extended the time.”

Along with various backgrounds, group members also offered different points of view regarding geothermal energy.

“I came with a very strong opinion,” said group member Rene Siracusa, who has been a critic of Puna Geothermal Venture, the state’s only geothermal power plant.

“But we all had to declare ahead of time if we were carrying any baggage and what that baggage was.”

Siracusa said the report will address air, soil and water monitoring, as well as emergency response.

“By and large,” she said, the group is in agreement in regards to the findings and recommendations.

“We have reviewed an awful lot of information.”

Alfred Dettweiler, another group member, said he believes the report will be helpful, adding he wished it happened before geothermal energy started on the Big Island.

“We’re 25 years behind the curve at this point,” he said.

The group was formed at the request of Mayor Billy Kenoi in response to criticism of geothermal development in Puna.

About $50,000 was allocated toward the effort.

The draft report will be posted at www.accord3.com/pg68.cfm. Other information on the project can also be found there.

Comments will be accepted on the website, Adler said.

He expects to have a final version completed by Sept. 1.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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