Sunday, September 14, 2008

Island Breath: Superferry Rapid Risk Assessment Full Text

I like these Kauai 'hippies,' they find good stuff. See my comments at the bottom:


"Superferry Rapid Risk Assessment"
by Juan Wilson on 13 September 2008

"Jeri DiPietro has furnished us with two reports prepared by consultant Belt-Collins to the Hawaii Department of Transportation. One is titled:

'Rapid Risk Assessment of Operational Compliance and Environmental Risks of The Hawaii Superferry' click here for PDF

This document was released in August 2008 and details the study of a limited number of categories of environmental risk concerning the pre-EIS operation of the Superferry. They include:

3.1 Ocean Life and Marine Animals and Plants
3.2 Water Resources and Quality / Public Safety and Security
3.3 Vehicular Traffic
3.4 Invasive Species / Cultural and Natural Resources
3.5 Native Hawaiian Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness
3.6 Other Considerations

The report identifies no problems with catagory 3.2 dealing with water resource quality and public safety; nor does it specify any problems with catagory 3.6 "Other Considerations."

The second document is titled:

'Appendices of Rapid Risk Assessment of Operational Compliance and Environmental Risks of The Hawaii Superferry' click here for PDF

Note: The illustrations for this article are from the Appendices

We have extracted from the RRA what we thought were significant operational short-comings admitted by the Superferry Corporation that have not yet been mitigated by the time of the report.

3.1 Ocean Life and Marine Animals and Plants

"...On the nighttime legs, hand-held, monocular night vision devices were employed by the two lookouts. Although vision at twilight is impaired due to low light, night vision equipment was not typically used immediately following sunset. In addition, the hand-held and monocular aspects of the night vision device appeared to produce fatigue after just several minutes of use. Significant variation in usage of the night vision equipment by the two lookouts occurred; one used the device approximately 75 percent of the time, while the other used the device as little as 15 percent of the time. It is recommended that a binocular night vision device with a head harness be used to free up hands and avoid fatigue, and that use of the night vision equipment be standardized so that it is used consistently and continuously following sunset. It is also recommended that a study demonstrating the effectiveness of the night vision system at detecting whales be performed using scientifically accepted methods.

Bow-mounted cameras are not currently employed on the HSF vessel, as no such cameras were available during the RRA observation period. The HSF, however, has contracted Current Corporation to develop a bow-mounted infrared sensor system to aid in detecting whales. As with radar equipment, the efficacy of these sensors in detecting whales is still in the research and development phase."

3.4 Invasive Species / Cultural and Natural Resources

"...The notification provided to all passengers upon HSF ticket purchase states that all vehicles, camping, hiking, hunting, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and boating equipment (including boats and trailers) should be thoroughly washed with fresh water and be free of any debris, and that all vehicles, including “off road” or four-wheel drive vehicles, including trucks, dirt bikes, and all-terrain vehicles, will be subject to screening and inspection, including for dirt or mud. It is recommended that the notification put greater emphasis on the necessity to remove mud from vehicles, as many arriving passengers do not seem to take this requirement seriously. Additional pre-arrival vehicle cleaning procedures, including vacuuming of the interior and removal of accumulated vegetative material from under the hood, around the trunk, or inside the truck bed, should also be added to the notification.

...As dictated by E.O. 07-10 condition E.15, the HSF requires passengers to declare all plants, fruits, seeds, and any other biological medium, as indicated in the notification provided to all passengers upon ticket purchase. Verbal querying of passengers traveling without vehicles to elicit such declarations, however, was observed to be inconsistent. The HSF staff frequently omitted questions regarding non-plant materials and occasionally did not query passengers about prohibited items at all. Animals or other banned non-plant materials should be explicitly mentioned when conducting verbal screenings for prohibited items. Because of the inconsistent questioning of passengers (only 17% of passengers traveling without vehicles were verbally queried), the HSF was deemed not in compliance with E.O. 07-10 condition E.15."

3.5 Native Hawaiian Cultural Sensitivity and Awareness

"...Because the complexity and depth of the sentiment and concerns expressed cannot be easily described, let alone summarized, this RRA does not attempt to do so. Rather, only a few of the overarching concerns are presented herein. ...Current HSF operations could be viewed by some within the native Hawaiian community as lacking in understanding and integration of the host culture, language, and values. For this reason, the HSF should consider initiating dialogue with a group of respected Hawaiian leaders and collaborating with the community. The forum would demonstrate the HSF’s commitment in obtaining input from the native Hawaiian community, which could serve as a step toward repairing relations."

We [the above editors] do not feel these admissions address many of the problems that the Kauai community has expressed as concerns, nor the concerns that residents of Maui have had after a year of Superferry operations."

In quickly scanning the two RRA documents, what caught my attention was the most recent summary Coast Guard inspection report on this vessel and the following quote:

"...The Master must obtain current weather data from a recognized weather service prior to commencing any trip to ensure the following parameters are not exceeded during the voyage:

Significant Wave Height (M) Maximum Allowable Speed (kts)
6.0+ ------------------------Seek shelter at slow speed

The vessel is limited to a 6.0 meter significant wave height when carrying passengers..."

Six meters is a little more than 19 feet. It looks like the rumor that Greg heard after the mishaps last winter about a revised Coast Guard 19 feet wave operating limitation was accurate. Greg is batting a 1.000 with that kind of stuff. [The last good rumor that Greg heard was that insiders are disinclined to award one or both of the LCS/JHSV contracts based on these types of hulls.]

Also notice that there is a speed limit on this vessel below 20 knots based on wave heights, but not for whales. There is a low commercial speed limit on the Northeastern seaboard for whales, but no, not here in Hawaii. Thanks to the 'hippies' on Kauai for sharing these documents. Will look further at them.

Aloha, Brad

1 comment:

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