Saturday, February 28, 2009
HD: ...They're trying to put butts in seats.
SU: But at the same time, are they making any money?
HD: No. No, they're probably all losing money on their interisland service right now...
HD: I think all of them, including Superferry, are struggling a bit. It depends a lot on how much worse the recession gets...
I'll just add that this fare war is much more expensive to HSF in losses per passenger than for any of the airlines. Mokulele, though, appears to have shallow pockets, and will likely go down first. But, Mokulele has the most comfortable looking seats to put your butt into and not get motion sick. It's a toss-up as to whether Go! can last longer than HSF. The only strong player in this is Hawaiian. If you got money to burn, I'd recommend Mokulele for as long as they are around.
Friday, February 27, 2009
February 23, 2009
Brennon Morioka, Director
State Department of Transportation
869 Punchbowl Street, Room 509
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Mr. Morioka:
Draft Environmental Impact Statement
Statewide Large-Capacity Inter-Island Ferry
Honolulu, Wailuku, Lihue, and South Kohala
The Statewide Large-Capacity Inter-Island Ferry Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) evaluates harbor improvements proposed by the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (DOT) to support a large-capacity ferry vessel company. The harbors affected by these actions are Honolulu Harbor (City and County of Honolulu), Kahului Harbor (County of Maui), Nawiliwili Harbor (County of Kauai), and Kawaihae Harbor (County of Hawaii). Significant probable direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts are discussed in the DEIS. Direct impacts include displaced cultural activities and visual impacts to Pu`ukohola Heiau. Indirect impacts are defined as those occurring as a result of a large-capacity ferry vessel company’s operations and include impacts to traffic, traditional cultural practices and the loss of natural resources and activities. Significant cumulative impacts may include takes of Humpback whales, traffic in the vicinity of all four harbors, dispersal of invasive species, and impacts upon traditional cultural practices within Kahului Harbor.
This review was conducted with the assistance of Curt Daehler, UHM Botany; Richard Mayer, Maui Community College; Marshall Mock, Kauai Community College; and Ryan Riddle, Environmental Center.
The use of the term “Statewide Large-Capacity Inter-Island Ferry” throughout the document is not necessary except we surmise for legal purposes. It should be noted however, that throughout the document the large-capacity inter-island ferry is identified as the Hawaii Superferry or HSF. We see little reason to distinguish between the large-capacity inter-island ferry and the Hawaii Superferry or HSF. It would make for easier reading if the authors could just call the HSF the HSF.
The examination of alternatives is incomplete. According to Act 2 of the Second Special Session of 2007, the environmental impact statement process shall include evaluating alternatives (Section 9(b)(5)) and that those alternatives include “alternative locations for the proposed project, as appropriate” (Section 10(a)(5)(E)). Only the four harbors where the HSF is currently operating in or plan to operate in the near future are considered in the DEIS while three other harbors, Barbers Point, Hilo and Port Allen that the HSF could conceivably use are ignored. Granted the ferry may not be planning to ever use those harbors but the DEIS should not be limited to destinations that the Department of Transportation has permitted the ferry to use. In an emergency, the HSF may have to divert to other ports to land its passengers safely. Future large-capacity inter-island ferry companies may wish to use other commercial harbors in the State and the DOT should be obligated to review the use of these alternate locations.
In addition to our general comments we also have several specific comments.
Information to be Incorporated by Reference – Rapid Risk Assessment (p. 1-4)
Since the ferry’s inception, how often have the ferry’s services been cancelled due to high seas and maintenance? What are the maximum wave conditions that the vessel can operate under?
Comprehensive List of Potential Resources and Issues (pp. 1-7 – 1-15)
We disagree with the contention on page 1-8 that the impacts to surface water quality are not potentially significant. In the event of a catastrophic accident to the HSF, it may in fact leak a substantial amount of fuel. A spill of more than 10,000 gallons of fuel is considered a medium sized oil-spill that could have significant impacts on the water quality in the vicinity of the spill. The potential of a spill and the response to the spill should be discussed in the DEIS.
In regards to sidewalks (mentioned on page. 1-9), a listed concern is the lack of sidewalks at Kawaihae Harbor. The DEIS states that foot traffic from large-capacity ferry vessel passengers outside of the ferry terminal area is expected to be minimal. How many passengers does the DOT estimate will be pedestrians on the ferry and at what point will passenger levels warrant the construction of sidewalks?
The DEIS mentions on page 1-9 that underground utility corridors are being considered for new Kawaihae Harbor projects to reduce visual impacts to the national park and viewshed. While this issue is indeed a management issue for all of Kawaihae Harbor, we would like to see a more in-depth discussion on the scope of the electrical infrastructure needed for upcoming Kawaihae Harbor projects. Is the ferry’s landing at Kawaihae Harbor the catalyst for undergrounding the utilities there?
Kahului Harbor (p. 2-8)
The DEIS states that the barge and ramp system for Kahului is similar to that illustrated (Figure 2-5) for Honolulu. In what ways does it differ?
Action Alternative (pp. 2-8 – 2-12)
On pages 2-8 through 2-12 harbor improvements for each of the four harbors are described. While these improvements are discussed in detail, it is difficult to discern which of the actions are underway or finished and which will be initiated in the near future. Perhaps, a chart in this section would be helpful in distinguishing the sequence of each of the projects listed.
Ferry Routes (p. 2-12)
The DEIS states that Kauai service is expected to be operated as the afternoon/evening roundtrip voyage on alternate days with the second Honolulu and Kahului round trip voyage as listed in Table 2-2. The times for the service to Kauai are not listed in Table 2-2. Is there an estimate of the departure times for the Honolulu-Nawiliwili service once it is reinstated?
In regards to weekly frequency, the DEIS reads, “When both vessels are operating, round trip voyages between Oahu and Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii Island are planned on a schedule frequency ranging from 3 days per week to daily plus four additional voyages per week.” These estimations vary greatly – what factors would influence these decisions?
Ferry Vessel (p. 2-14)
In regard to bilge water the DEIS states, “any water that could be contaminated with petroleum products is contained within its own disposal system and is designed to flow into a 500-liter holding tank to be emptied periodically in Honolulu by a commercial vendor.” How often does HSF or DOT estimate the holding tank will be emptied? The size of the holding tank is approximately 132 gallons - is that large enough to hold bilge water spills?
Potable Water System (p. 2-15)
In Section 220.127.116.11 the DEIS states “Each HSF vessel has on board a 2,000 gallon potable water tank, refilled daily through a shore-side connection located at the pier.” On average, how many gallons of potable water are consumed per voyage?
Table 3-8: Distribution Status of Invasive Terrestrial and Freshwater Species of Concern by Island (p. 3-29)
With the exception of Bush beardgrass (Schizachyrium condensatum) all of the invasive species of concern mentioned have not established themselves on Kauai. As a result, perhaps procedures should be more stringent on Kauai in order to prevent establishment of these species of concern.
Cultures Resources (pp. 3-32-3-33)
In the fourth paragraph in the section on cultural resources, the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) is erroneously identified as being part of the Department of Health (DOH). The OEQC is advisory to the Governor and placed in the DOH for administrative purposes.
Population and Housing (p. 3-54)
In Section 3.6.1 the DEIS states, “Residents of neighbor islands often speak of Honolulu as a busy metropolis and contrast life on Oahu to their more rural lifestyle. While they can point to Honolulu’s population density and congested highways as an example to be avoided in local planning, the image of Hawaii as a single city and a rural hinterland on all other islands is misleading.” Did you mean “the image of Oahu as a single city . . .”?
Potential Impacts and Mitigation (pp. 4-1 – 4-129)
To what extent do current and proposed harbor improvements accommodate global sea-level rise predictions? While this is an issue primarily for the harbors’ long-range plans, this issue merits serious consideration in the DEIS.
Invasive Species (pp. 4-62 – 4-71)
On page 4-62 the DEIS states, “Large-capacity ferry operations would add to the existing risk of inter-island transport of invasive species.” This statement is entirely accurate. Unfortunately, these risks are difficult to quantify. Of primary concern is that this mode of inter-island transport - passengers with their vehicles - provides new opportunities for deliberate or inadvertent transport of invasive species. As might be expected in such a case, policies more stringent than those used for other modes of transport have been put into place by HSF. In principle, the guidelines set out in Executive Order 07-10 provide a reasonable strategy for minimizing risk.
In the current arrangement employees of HSF mainly carry out inspections. This arrangement creates a conflict of interest. In order to remain a viable business, HSF must strive to please its customers and maximize profits. In contrast, useful inspections generally displease customers. Customers are even more displeased if violations are recorded and actions are taken against them. It is in the interest of HSF to minimize such negative interactions with customers, rather than to run an effective biosecurity program. Therefore, a more effect system would use inspectors who are independent of HSF and who also have law enforcement authority. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has both the mission to protect the islands from invasive species becoming established and the police power to enforce state conservation laws. The task of conducting inspections might reasonably fall to DLNR, although they would probably require compensation in order to be involved.
Procedures that are in place to prevent the spread of pests on produce and agricultural products are unclear. Agricultural pests have the potential to cause major economic damage to crops. HSF employees are unlikely to detect these pests, including emerging pests (recent arrivals to the State), which are commonly found several times per year. The Department of Agriculture (DOA) has employees that have the expertise needed to spot pests on sight. Perhaps the DOA could administer this inspection.
Procedures for screening the interior of vehicles are not described. The interior of vehicles are likely to be a major mode of transport for the prohibited items outlined in Executive Order 07-10.
Agricultural Screening and Vehicle Inspection (p. 4-69)
Why are baggage inspections random? All passengers and baggage are inspected on airline flights and a maximum effort to intercept invasive plants and animals would require the inspection of all ferry baggage as well.
Archaeological and Historic Sites (p. 4-81)
On page 4-81 the DEIS states “No impact on archaeological and historic sites would occur from ferry related operations.” This may be true, but impacts on archeological and historic sites are likely to come from the passengers. These potential impacts as not discussed in the document.
Fiscal (pp. 4-93 – 4-95)
Numerous aspects of the State’s revenues and expenditures have been omitted from or misrepresented in the fiscal analysis in Section 18.104.22.168.3 and Appendix G. These extra expenses include: legislative operating costs; costs to operate the six month Oversight Task Force and the Rapid Risk Assessment; costs associated with the State auditor’s investigation and report; the Special Traffic Study (Kahului); as well as the additional cost (above $1.6 million) for the preparation of this DEIS. Other State expenditures include those associated with citizen’s court cases over the last four years, and the interest payments of approximately $2 million per year on the $40 million State issued general obligation reimbursable bonds (the ferry being asked to pay only the $40 million principal). Additionally, the DEIS fails to include the dollar amount of the land that the State purchased at Kahului Harbor (the Kahului Railroad location).
Many infrastructure expenditures are also omitted. These include costs associated with preparing Honolulu’s Pier 19 for future use; the new mooring system for Kahului Harbor; estimates of long-term costs pertaining to the maintenance of barges and harbor facilities; and the large potential costs of constructing a new ferry pier or docking facility on the West Breakwater at Kahului Harbor.
The State Revenue figures in Section 22.214.171.124.3 are derived from the more detailed estimates in Appendix G. On page G-56, footnotes 5, 6, and 7 are based on the ferry company’s “gross receipts”. Given the number of estimated passengers (p. 4-97) and vehicles (p. 4-98), $86 million seems to be a substantial overstatement.
A large portion of the expected net state revenues (supposedly $5 to $10 million per year) is derived from high visitor expenditures by ferry passengers. This is misleading since many of the passengers are residents who will be merely shifting their spending from one island to another, resulting in no increase in State revenues. As for mainland tourists who use the ferry, they would be using an airplane instead and would be spending roughly the same amounts on any island visited, again resulting in no increase in State revenues.
The fiscal impacts section needs to have a thorough discussion of the losses that the State would incur if no ferry uses the barges and the company does not make the expected repayments on the $40 million spent on harbor improvements.
Projected Impact of Ferry on Inter-Island Cargo, 2010 (p. 4-98)
Ignored in the revenue calculations is the loss of revenue due to ferry passengers taking their car instead of renting a vehicle? The State will lose $3 per day for each of the 3.8 days that the average passenger will spend on the other island. That is a loss to the State of $3*3.8 = $11.40 for each person who takes a vehicle instead of renting.
According to page 4-98, there will be about 206,000 vehicles shipped. At $11.40 per vehicle, that is $2.35 million dollars per year in lost rental-car State revenue. This is not an insignificant amount.
Harbor Uses, Including Recreational Users (pp. 4-100 – 4-106)
Given that State funds were provided for the harbor improvements, should any restrictions be placed upon their use by recreational users? Will the determination of potential recreational users be made on a case-by-case basis?
Table 5.11: State Revenues Associated with Ferry Operations (p. G-55)
Given that the ferry company cannot reach a “break-even” passenger load with its reduced fares, it cannot be assumed that the company will have a profit and that the State will receive any “Corporate Income Tax” payment as is assumed on page G-55.
Thank you for the opportunity to review this Draft EIS.
Environmental Review Coordinator
Lesley Matsumoto, Belt Collins
Kahului Harbor Coalition
P.O. Box 170
To: Ms. Katherine P. Kealoha, Director
Office of Environmental Quality Control
235 South Beretania Street, Suite 702
Honolulu, HI 96813-2419
Fax: 808 586-4186
Cc: Mr. Michael D. Formby, Deputy Director – Harbors
State Dept. of Transportation
79 South Nimitz Highway
Honolulu, HI 96813-4898
Fax: 808 587-3652
From: Jeffrey Parker
Director, Kahului Harbor Coalition
P.O. Box 170
Haiku. HI 96708
Subject: Comments on the Act 2 Pseudo-DEIS
Dear Ms. Kealoha and Mr. Formby,
As you know, our organization believes that the Act 2 is unconstitutional, and its pseudo-EIS does not protect the public trust, and falls far short of a real Chapter 343 EIS under HEPA. Our comments in this letter are made without prejudice to our claim that Act 2 is unconstitutional and that a new EIS compliant with Chapter 343 still must be prepared. The Kahului Harbor Coalition opposes acceptance of this fake EIS.
I. The Act 2 EIS does not comply with HEPA, does not accomplish the recognized purposes of environmental review, and weakens environmental protection in Hawaii.
Our initial comments and the initial comments of other organizations pointed out the many failings of Act 2 and its pseudo-EIS. Both Masako Cordray of KHC and Irene Bowie of Maui Tomorrow told Belt Collins representatives that the EIS would lack legitimacy and would fail to protect the public interest, at a consultation held on March 18 2008. Many others, including myself, made the same points in recorded statements made at the public consultation on March 17, 2008. Yet, nowhere in the DEIS can these comments be found. If unwilling to take this primary issue on, the preparers of the DEIS should have at least included our entire comments and not just a “summary” of our comments. According to the OEQC, the Draft will include “Reproductions of substantive comments received from the consulted parties and the responses to said comments made during the consultation process.” Apparently this was not done. (It is interesting to note that in the summary of the comments of the Maui County Corporation Counsel “challenge constitutionality of Act 2” IS listed as a concern, although the DEIS makes no attempt to answer that concern either.) Future researchers will not be able to know that many people were questioning the very legitimacy of this EIS project from the outset.
a. “No Action Alternative” is meaningless.
The strong foundation upon which Chapter 343 and HEPA are built is non-implementation. The whole point of the environmental review process is to prepare environmental disclosure studies to alert decision-makers to the impacts of a proposed action prior to the implementation of that action. Chapter 343 prohibits the implementation of the project while the environmental studies are being prepared, HRS § 343-5(b),(c). In this pseudo Act 2 DEIS, the action is already implemented, therefore there can be no objective analysis of the No Action Alternative, i.e., what will be the result of not building a large-capacity inters island ferry system. The environmental review process required by HEPA involves among other things, incorporating environmental review “at the earliest practicable time” and a prohibition against implementing the project until the environmental review process has been completed. HAR 11-200-1.
b. Act 2 EIS attempts to restrict challenges.
The Legislature tries to restrict challenges to the acceptance of the bogus EIS by not setting out procedures for challenges such as the 125 day provision for challenges in Chapter 343. Act 2 does not discuss the public’s right to challenge the adequacy of the “EIS”, depriving the public of their ability to assure compliance with the “mandates” of Act 2. In normal environmental review, members of the public have vested rights to the judicial review of the adequacy of any EIS. It is this right to judicial review that assures the integrity of the environmental process. Because Superferry is permitted to operate during the preparation of the “EIS”, all of the procedural harms, including the likely tolerance of actual environmental harm, will occur. If the public cannot challenge the findings of a State environmental document, the outcome is a document which might protect vested interests, cronyism, and at its worst might serve to conceal political corruption. The Legislature and the Governor tried to prevent the possibility of injunctive relief, causing further damage to Hawaii’s environmental law. OEQC cannot possibly join in this charade. This bogus “EIS” must not be accepted.
c. Mitigation Measures in Act 2 EIS are meaningless.
Through Act 2 the Legislature imposes “mitigation” measures in an arbitrary and capricious fashion without the benefit of the EA or EIS whose purpose it is to fashion mitigation measures before a project is implemented. In the DEIS, much of the proposed “mitigation” is simply a recitation of the Governor’s Executive Order (EO). The “mitigation” in the EO was arrived at in some fashion other than the careful and painstaking manner in which mitigation measures are proposed in a real EIS. Because the Superferry is allowed to go ahead and operate, there is no incentive for the DOT or HSF to actually implement any mitigation measures. In a real EIS, with non-implementation and the possibility of injunctive relief, agencies and the developer have real incentive to come up with meaningful mitigation. We can not find any legal requirement in Act 2 for mitigation to actually be implemented. The current situation is further exacerbated by the ongoing economic crises. Even if additional mitigation is identified in this ACT 2 “EIS”, where would the funds for implementation come from?
d. Performance Audit of Act 2 is omitted
The Audit states:
“We also found that the legislation on behalf of the Hawaii Superferry compromised the State’s environmental laws and set a worrisome precedent for future government accommodation that puts the interest of a single business before the State’s environmental, fiduciary, and public safety responsibilities.”
Why are the Performance Audit and its conclusions not incorporated in the “DEIS”? DOT and Belt Collins have failed to take the “hard look” required by Hawaii environmental law.
e. Evidence and expert opinions obtained during 4-week long evidentiary hearing in 2nd Circuit Court on Maui are omitted.
The information obtained during this intense legal proceeding offer the best insight into the risks posed by the Hawaii Superferry if allowed to operate without a valid EIS. Yet, DOT and Belt Collins chose to not utilize this wealth of information. Yet more proof that DOT and Belt Collins failed to take the “hard look” required by Hawaii environmental law. Once again, where is the “hard look”?
II. Consulting Parties Section of DEIS raises questions
Why were the letters of some commenters published in their entirety and others were not? Since it is all done electronically and by the use of pdf files, all of the comment letters could have easily been included in their entirety. What is the process by which organizations were labeled “consulting parties”? What is the purpose of labeling respondents as “consulting parties” when the consulting parties provision of Chapter 343 was deleted by Act 2? One can only conclude that the consulting party designations in this pseudo-EIS are meaningless.
III. PDF format of “DEIS” is cumbersome and difficult to use, making the job of concerned parties reviewing the document unnecessarily difficult.
While we applaud the distribution of the DEIS by compact disk, the pdf format is maddening to use. Cannot perform keyword searches and we cannot copy and paste the DEIS conclusions into our response letters. Most of us commenting are ordinary working people not on salary to review this DEIS. One cannot help but wonder if the format was chosen specifically to make our job more difficult and time-consuming.
IV. Increased risk of alien species transport
The public record is full of rational testimony concerning the increased risk of alien species transport by the Hawaii Superferry (LCIF). Yet neither the DEIS or the “Biological Assessment” makes use of this information. The concern of increased introductions of alien and invasive species through the Harbor was one of the chief reasons the Kahului Harbor Coalition was formed. From the very beginning of the Superferry issue, we have participated at every opportunity for public participation. The very first opportunity to comment was the PUC Hearing regarding the CPCN Permit for the Hawaii Superferry held at Kahului Maui in November of 2004. At that Hearing I said
“The Ferry System will ratchet up the whole alien species issue to dangerous new levels (because now, any new pest species which is established on any island may rapidly be spread to the other islands - but equally important is that the cars, pickup trucks, and vans will potentially travel on every back road, possibly dropping off seeds and eggs wherever they go. Rapid and efficient dispersal to every remote corner of every island is the issue.”
After explaining how HEPA was triggered by 4 different “triggers”, I asked that an EA be required by the PUC, a completely reasonable request since they have the power to require an EA and have done so in other projects in the past.
“This PUC Commission has required environmental review in the past, notably in the East Oahu Transmission Project. The purpose of environmental review is to help you, the decision makers, make a more informed decision. And if there ever were a case for you to require an EA, this is the one.”
The PUC declined to require the EA, despite what they said was “compelling testimony”. (50 out of 51 testifiers asked for an EA or EIS). Later we learned that the Chairman of the PUC, Caldito Calaboso, many months prior to this hearing on Maui, had actually gone to the Legislature and advocated for fast-tracking of the Superferry project. Apparently, the decision to avoid the normal environmental review had already been made.
Representing the Kahului Harbor Coalition, I gave testimony, all of which revolved around the increased alien species risk and the need for environmental analysis that complies with Chapter 343, at these venues:
1. 11-17-2004 - Testimony to the Public Utilities Commission Regarding the Application for a CPCN for Hawaii Superferry, Inc.
2. 2-28-2005 - Senate Bill 1785 Relating to the Superferry - Environmental Impact Statement
3. 3-11-2005 - Maui County Council Resolution Requesting EIS. Here a point I made was:
“Interestingly, the voluminous Superferry PUC Application did not contain a single comment letter from the Dept. of Agriculture, the agency charged with preventing the movement of alien species from island to island.”
4. 3-17-2005 - Testimony to the Humpback Whale Sanctuary Advisory Commission (SAC)
5. 9-05-2004 – Written Comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the Kahului Harbor Improvements (with emphasis on the Superferry Proposal)
6. 1-30-07 – Support for HB702, Superferry EIS Bill.
7. 2-27-07 – Support for SB1276, Superferry EIS Bill. Here I said:
“The Hawaii Superferry has the potential to bring rapid changes to each island. And because large amounts of Federal and State money are involved, and because State land is involved, we are entitled to a full Environmental Impact Statement.
As a full-time farmer, I spend much of my time battling new agricultural pest species. There are several devastating pests present in Hawaii which exist on a single island and not on other islands. Examples are the Stinging Nettle Caterpillar on the Big Island, and the Tiny Fire Ant, also on the Big Island. Likewise, there is a new papaya mealy bug which exists only on Maui, and only Oahu has the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter, an insect which, in other parts of the world, transmits a disease that weakens or kills many species of plants and trees.
Agricultural officials in California speak enviously of the protection our deep ocean channels provide each of Hawaii’s counties and islands – as they themselves struggle to stop the spread of newly-introduced dangerous pests over California county lines.
The Superferry may likely ruin our natural barrier to the rapid spread of alien pests throughout our state – unless an E.I.S. proposes meaningful mitigation. The magnitude of this risk must be assessed, and mitigation measures must be proposed BEFORE the Superferry can begin operations. An Environmental Impact Statement and a Risk Assessment will do exactly that.
As the operator of a State-Certified Nursery, I am in frequent contact with DOA Ag Inspectors and officials. Everyone I’ve spoken with agrees that the unmitigated Superferry operation will increase the transfer of pests from island to island, and all share my belief that the “self-inspections” being proposed by the Superferry management will likely not be adequate to minimize these risks.
In addition to our BN/RN Nursery Certification, our nursery is under a “Coqui Frog-Free Certification.” We have been warned that if the Frog shows up on our property, a quarantine will be put in place and we will be banned from shipping our products out of State. This would quickly put us out of business. Each automobile traveling on the Superferry may potentially carry the Frogs or eggs – and these vehicles may quickly transport the eggs to every remote corner of every island. It has already been proven that Coqui eggs can be transported in mud underneath automobiles
There are thousands of workers in Hawaii whose livelihoods depend on agriculture – nursery workers, vegetable and fruit and flower growers, landscapers, horticultural supply houses and farm equipment suppliers. Their jobs could be at risk if the Superferry is allowed to go into operation without an E.I.S. and resulting mitigation measures.”
7. 3-30-06 – Panelist for Superferry Forum sponsored by Pacific Whale Foundation. One of my points here was:
“Any informal cooperation to date between the state Department of Agriculture and Hawaii Superferry regarding inspections and alien species introductions is no substitute, as a matter of fact or law, for an EIS prepared pursuant to Hawaii Environmental Policy Act."
We have also attended all Maui meetings of the Superferry Task Force (OTF) and presented testimony
I have also written to, or discussed the need for an EIS by telephone with:
Sen. J. Kalani English
Sen. Brian Kanno
Sen. Lorraine Inouye
Representative Hermina Morita
Maui County Councilwoman Michelle Anderson
Maui County Councilwoman Charmaine Tavares
Maui County Environmental Coordinator Rob Parsons
Haleakala National Park Supervisor Don Reeser
The Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC)
The Maui News
V. Alien Species issue in Act 2 DEIS
1. Firstly, the EIS should point out that the current level of inspections of the SF is the direct result of citizen action.
Whatever precautions are in place to help prevent the inter-island spread of invasive alien species on the Superferry exist solely as a result of tireless advocacy of citizen groups such as the Kahului Harbor Coalition, Maui Tomorrow, Sierra Club, the Maui Invasive Species Committee, Friends of Haleakala National Park and other concerned citizens. Hawaii Superferry and HDOA initially did not even acknowledge the need for mitigation.
So it is somewhat gratifying now to see that Dr. Howarth in the Alien Species Biological Assessment agrees with what KHC and others have been saying all along:
“Operation of the LCIF provides significant new pathways for the inter-island transport of invasive species by facilitating efficient rapid high-volume transportation of passengers, their cars, and personal effects.”
“The ability to drive contaminated vehicles and material directly from infested habitats on one island to the LCF and within a few hours drive directly to similar un-invaded habitats on another island poses a special risk.”
“By making interisland transport of plant material quicker and more convenient, the LCIF will significantly add to the risk of moving plant pests inter-island.”
“Smuggling, or the illegal transporting of alien species inter-island, is a special concern, since the convenience, speed of transport, and volume and type of cargo, may facilitate the illegal transport of alien species”
“Such a service (LCIF) adds to the existing risk of movement of harmful invasive species to new islands. Currently, airlines move passengers and cargo and inter-island barge service carries a high volume of commodities and personal effects between the same and additional islands. However, the high transportation costs, security checks, and for barge service, delays limit the type of material shipped between the islands. The LCIF fills a niche in providing more convenient inter-island to individuals and families wishing to travel with their vehicles and personal effects. It is also anticipated that the LCIF will encourage greater volume of diversified agricultural production, resulting in a greater volume of fresh, unprocessed produce that will be shipped inter-island, especially from the outer islands to markets on Oahu. IT is anticipated that fresh produce might suffer less damage from heat during transit (relative to existing barge and airline modes of transportation), which would result in greater chances for survival of any hitchhiking pest species. In addition, military use of the LCIF has not been ruled out for movement of personnel and training equipment between islands. The principle changes in transport involve the higher volume and more rapid movement of personal vehicles, household goods, and agricultural products. As described in the next section, this increase in the flow of certain materials significantly increases the risk of movement and establishment of alien species on new islands.”
2. Draft EIS Section 4.3.2 “However, cumulative risks of invasive species introduction and dispersal would be mitigated by implementation of the DOA’s Biosecurity Program, including planned transitional inspection facilities located at the harbors.” DOT refuses to take responsibility for the impacts that result from its projects and instead passes the buck to HDOA. HDOA will now say that funds are lacking for these facilities.
3. HDOA has known that State-of-the-art Invasive Species Interdiction Facilities are needed at the harbors since at least 1998. Why are these facilities not completed and in use today? The cost of these facilities is estimated at between $2 million and $3 million each.
a. The Biological Opinion issued for the Kahului Airport Expansion by the US Fish and Wildlife Service identifies Kahului Harbor as the second main portal (or pathway) for the entry of invasive species into Maui. (The first being Kahului Airport) One of the outcomes of the Kahului Airport case was that we now have a State-of-the-art Invasive Species Interdiction Facility – not only a model for the State but a model for the entire country. Since HDOA learned that the Harbor is the number 2 pathway for the entry of invasive pests, HDOA also realized the need for a similar facility at the Harbor.
b. The recommendations in the Alien Species Biological Assessment (Howarth, et al) concur: “Collaborate with HDOA and HDOT to improve quarantine protocols and develop improved quarantine facilities at each harbor in accordance with State laws and rules” However, no hint is given as to how this collaboration will be facilitated, or how these improvements might be funded, etc.
4. DOT monies may be used to fund increased alien species efforts at the Harbor
One of the outcomes of the Kahului Airport controversy and settlements was that DOT CAN use Airport Special Funds to build Alien Species Interdiction Facility and hire additional Inspectors and Dog Teams for the Airport. This sets a precedent whereby DOT may indeed fund the Interdiction Facility and additional inspectors and dog teams for the Harbor. This is only fair, since it is the projects backed by DOT, such as the Hawaii Superferry, that will exacerbate the problem (of increased alien species introductions through the Harbor).
5. Instead, DOT squandered $40 million on unnecessary barges
In 2006 and 2007, KHC spent a lot of time on the shipbuilder Austal’s
website – looking over the specifications of virtually every large capacity ferry they had built. We were struck by the fact that most of these vessels were constructed with telescoping variable-height stern ramps for the unloading of vehicles. And because of the contract the State had put out for the construction of the barges, and other research we did, we learned that the Alakai was being built without the stern ramps.
At a public meeting on Feb. 21, 2007, SF’s Terry O’halloran refused to answer why the Alakai did not have the stern ramps that most other Austal ferries have. CEO Garibaldi was also present and could have answered.
Now we learn from the audit conducted by State Auditor Marion Higa, which was required by Act 2, that Staff in the department's harbors division had thought before the meeting between Bob Awana and Superferry executives that the department's recommendations were to require a statewide environmental assessment of the project and to get Superferry to install a quarter stern ramp on the vessel to give it more flexibility at Kahului Harbor on Maui.
But Superferry executives, according to an account by a department staffer, told the state that anything but an exemption was a deal-breaker and that they would not be installing any ramps. The department staffer explained what happened to her colleagues in an e-mail following the afternoon meeting at the governor's offices: "Decisions made: We need to pursue EIS EXEMPTION; and HSF will NOT provide any ramps on vessel." E-mail between department staff, obtained by The Advertiser through the state's open-records law, shows that staff believed a significant decision had been made at that meeting with Superferry executives and Awana.
Staff in the department's harbors division had thought before the meeting that the department's recommendations were to require a statewide environmental assessment of the project and to get Superferry to install a quarter stern ramp on the vessel to give it more flexibility at Kahului Harbor on Maui. But Superferry executives, according to an account by a department staffer, told the state that anything but an exemption was a deal-breaker and that they would not be installing any ramps. The department staffer explained what happened to her colleagues in an e-mail following the afternoon meeting at the governor's offices: "Decisions made: We need to pursue EXEMPTION; and HSF will not provide any ramps on vessel."
And finally from the State Auditor Report: “We found that with the impending arrival of Hawai'i Superferry, Inc., the Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2004 and 2005 reversed a long-standing policy of not providing additional pier-side equipment for harbor users. State officials ignored the recommendations of their technical staff, setting off a chain of events that culminated in the selection of inadequate harbor improvement systems. Moreover, the DOT’s passive approach to the issue of addressing secondary or cumulative
effects was made possible by a combination of flawed or unclear EIS laws and rules.”
The public has the right to know, why did the SF refuse to install the ramps and why did the State cave in so quickly. It is our $40 million that was unnecessarily spent. All this should be covered in the Act 2 EIS. The public has a right to know.
6. A proper and lawful EIS would have publicized the need for Interdiction Facilities and increased harbor inspections prior to implementation of the project.
Irreparable harm is likely occurring at this very moment, because project is allowed to run without mitigation in place. There is now no incentive for a reluctant HDOA and HDOT to move quickly on the Interdiction Facilities or any additional mitigation such as increased personnel and dogs at the harbors. This is a prime example of why HEPA and Chapter 343 provide such good environmental protection for the public, and an after-the-fact “EIS” like the Act 2 “EIS” does not.
7. Non-expert administrators of HDOA are in conflict with experts.
Non-expert administrators of Hawaii Department of Agriculture hold a conviction, and are on the record all over the place, that “if a pest species gets to one island, then it is inevitable that it will get to all the islands.” This conviction is in conflict with your very own experts (i.e. Dr. Howarth) and virtually every commenter on Alien Species in the DEIS. If it is “inevitable” that pest species will get to all other islands, why does Dr. Howarth go to great links to study and elucidate the transport of alien invasive species and make several recommendations to prevent the spread of alien species inter-island? If it is “inevitable” that pest species will get to all other islands, why do the Field Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Superintendent of Volcanoes National Park, the Pacific Area Director of the National Park Service, the Kauai Invasive Species Committee, the Oahu Invasive Species Committee, the Maui Invasive Species Committee, the Project Leader of the USGS Pacific Island Research Center, all elucidate the unique threat posed by the LCIF operation and offer many recommendations to prevent the spread of alien species inter-island?
The DEIS should include a section discussing how the non-expert administrators of HDOA position on the transport of invasive species is at conflict with virtually every expert in the field.
8. Section 7 consultation pursuant to the Endangered Species Act should occur for all threatened and endangered species which may be affected by the proposal.
Alien invasive species may harm threatened and endangered species within Hawaii’s national parks and elsewhere. The Superintendent of Volcanoes National Parks, and many others, have requested a Section 7 Consultation. Conspicuously missing from the pseudo-EIS is a discussion of the Section 7 Consultation process. DOT and Hawaii Superferry have gone out of their way to NOT consult with Federal agencies. Moreover, Act 2 attempts to prevent Federal/State cooperation, by bringing the review process to an early artificial end, and prohibiting Supplementation.
9. Offers of assistance to manage the alien species problem are apparently ignored.
The field supervisor of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in Honolulu wrote to Belt Collins and said “The Service considers the spread of non-native invasive species to be a major threat to threatened and endangered species and other trust resources because of their potential to become established and alter the existing terrestrial or aquatic ecosystem.” “A more significant vector for spread of invasive species that should be addressed in the DEIS is the Hawaii Superferry.” “Management actions to prevent and control the introduction and spread of invasive species, need to be incorporated in your proposed action. These management activities should emphasize reducing the risk associated with pathways (e.g. construction equipment, personal protective equipment, delivery services, foot traffic, vehicles/vessels, shipping materials, and the transport of plant materials. We can assist you in providing procedures for disinfection, pest-free storage, monitoring methods, evaluation techniques, and general guidelines for structural integrated pest management.”
Did Belt Collins, DOT, or the preparers of the “Biological Assessment” seek assistance from USFW?
10. Belt Collins and DOT ignore important information presented at OTF meetings.
While the number of dangerous new pests that might be transported on the Superferry is large (Coqui Frogs, Stinging Nettle Caterpillar, Light Brown Apple Moth, Orchid Midge, Varroa Mite, Aquarium Snail, etc.), none is more terrifying than the Tiny Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata). This ant is already established on the Big Island and a population has been found on Kauai. The Tiny Fire Ant, if allowed to spread, will destroy agriculture in Hawaii and will likely alter the quality of life for every resident and visitor.
Representatives of Belt Collins and HDOA were present at the Maui Superferry OTF meeting held in August of 2008, when farmer Masako Cordray Westcott made the following presentation:
“We now need to look at the danger posed by the Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata). This tiny ant, native to central and south America is now established in west Africa, Florida and many places in the Pacific including Tuvalu, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Galapagos and now Hawai’i. Its spectacular success – developing quickly into massive colonies and displacing native species – is so striking it has been termed by biologists the Pan Pacific explosion.
First found in Puna in 1999, it has spread to Mt View, Kalapana, Hilo and Hamakua. There are now more than 50 infestations covering several hundred acres on Hawaii island as well as populations on Kaua’i at Kalihiwai and Kilauea.
The Little Fire Ant (LFA) is a voracious omnivore and nests both on the ground and in trees. Its painful bite leaves welts that last for days and in rare cases causes anaphylactic shock. Its bite has caused permanent blindness in cats, dogs and cattle. In Africa it has blinded lions and elephants. In the Galapagos, adult tortoises have been blinded and fledglings killed. In Hawaii, nene chicks have been killed by the LFA. People are being bitten in their homes in Hilo. In New Caledonia there are places where people will not put babies down on the ground. In Papua entire villages have been abandoned because infestations were so severe. In Brazil there are extremely high densities in sugar cane plantations. There are forest areas in the Solomons where people cannot walk because the ants rain down on them.
This habit of dropping from trees when disturbed is one of the horrors of farming in LFA infested areas. Coffee industries were destroyed in the Galapagos and New Caledonia where it was a major part of the economy. It was impossible to get people to pick the coffee because of the biting ants. Clearly Hawaii’s coffee industry is in jeopardy. Already in Hamakua, two fruit farms have shut down because of the LFA.
Geneticists have established that the original colony in Puna in 1999 consisted of one queen and one male. Only nine years later the population is massive and its range is extensive. This highlights how easily the LFA can be moved between the islands and new colonies inadvertently established. We must be alert to plants and soil but must also consider the vehicle itself and almost anything put into it. The list of possibilities is long.
I am here today to ask you to pass a recommendation establishing a study group of quarantine and invasive species experts that would include HDOA and Invasive Species committee representatives from each county and LFA researchers and experts like Glenn Taniguchi, Tommy Thompson and Pat Conant. This group will establish protocols for the HSF to prevent the movement of the LFA between the islands. These protocols must be in place before the commencement of service to Hawai’i Island or Kaua’i. Additionally, this study group will establish a rapid response team responsible for the eradication of incipient populations.
By coincidence today in Honolulu, the USDA, HDOA and various invasive species agencies are conducting a simulation of a Red Imported Fire Ant infestation to develop protocols for a rapid response. These very people and this experience should be involved in developing the procedures I am calling for.
The LFA is the catastrophic introduction we all feared. We are facing a crisis of extinction, economic disaster and a transformation of our way of life.
HSF is certainly not the only way for the LFA to move between the islands. But an honest evaluation will acknowledge that HSF increases and accelerates the risks.”
Ms. Westcott was contacted by officials of HDOA and told that they would indeed be acting on her recommendations. Yet, not a word of this most important aspect of the alien species impacts of the Superferry was mentioned in the “DEIS” (Once again, Belt Collins was aware of all of this). And not a subsequent word has been heard from HDOA about the formation of the “study group” requested by Ms. Westcott. The “DEIS” should have included an in-depth analysis of the Tiny Fire Ant threat, Ms. Westcott’s testimony, and a response from HDOA with proposed mitigation. If the Superferry had been prevented from operating until a lawful EIS was completed, there would have been incentive for fast action by HDOT,HDOA and Hawaii Superferry to set up the Tiny Fire Ant Study Group. Description of Tiny Fire Ant threat in 126.96.36.199 of the “DEIS” is woefully inadequate.
11. The description of the Coqui Frog threat in 188.8.131.52 omits main relative point.
This paragraph neglects to mention that it has already been proven that Coqui Frogs and their eggs can be transported on the undercarriages of automobiles.
12. Cleaning apparatus at terminal facilities.
In initial comments and in public comments at the many meetings held throughout the State over the past 4 years, the need for an undercarriage pressure wash system at terminal facilities was pointed out repeatedly. Maui Invasive Species Committee, Oahu Invasive Species Committee, Kauai Invasive Species Committee, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service all recommended versions of this idea. Yet in Section 184.108.40.206. the “DEIS” says “While an undercarriage pressure wash system, a vacuum cleaner, and a pressure wash hose at each terminal facility may improve cleaning procedures, they are not recommended because of constraints on space and water, the management of environmental concerns at the harbors, and the implications it would represent on other operators. Additional studies would be needed to recommend these cleaning procedures…..”
Firstly, if a proper EIS with non-implementation had been done, it would have been easy to include, and there would have been incentive to include, these wash facilities into the harbor layouts and Superferry Operational Plan. Secondly, the passage in the “DEIS”; “Additional studies would be needed to recommend these cleaning procedures” is puzzling to us, since Act 2 attempts to prohibit Supplementation (Supplemental EIS’s).
The undercarriage pressure wash system would probably have been the single most effective measure to help mitigate the new and unique risks of alien species transport (with which everyone agrees) posed by the Hawaii Superferry operation.
VI. “Unresolved Issues” and Conclusion of Alien Species Comments
In a real EIS, “unresolved issues” cannot be left unresolved unless there is an explanation of how these issues will be resolved or what overriding reasons there are for commencing the project without resolving the issues. Belt Collins has not done this, and no “overriding reasons” exist why the unresolved issues remain unresolved
By leaving the issue of the transport of alien species inter-island as an “unresolved issue”, it means that DOT and DOA are not going to do anything and they are going to allow the Superferry to spread alien species all over the State.
VI. Socio-economics: State costs of the Hawaii Superferry operation.
Discussion of costs passed on to tax payers, harbor users, and consumers is conspicuously missing from the DEIS. DOT is fond of saying that the costs of harbor improvements to facilitate the Hawaii Superferry will be covered by increased harbor fees to other harbor users. The obvious conclusion of those paying attention is that if harbor costs are increased for say, Young Brothers barge service and Matson shipping, then those increased costs will be passed along to the consumers. The price of every consumer item arriving through the harbor will naturally increase. The public has been kept from knowing that they themselves are subsidizing the Hawaii Superferry operation – a privately owned, out-of-state corporation. Everyone knows about the ill-spent $40 million on the completely unnecessary loading barges. (See V., #5 above). However there are many other costs which are steadily rising with no end in sight. These include at least another $5 million for items such as environmental studies, unanticipated tug-boat services, the “rapid risk assessment”, security, etc.
Still to come or hush hush, are the millions for the new mooring system, the costs of the four-year legal battle, the cost of convening a special legislative session, public meetings and a state auditor’s investigation. And there are many more costs, one of which is the State's interest payments of about $2,000,000/year on the $40,000,000 state issued general obligation reimbursable bonds. Governor Lingle recently issued emergency orders to control and reduce State government expenditures. The state budget director is forecasting a billion-dollar shortfall in revenues through 2011 and we’re told the 2009 Legislature will need to make tough decisions. Already depleted resources for the state library system have been trimmed by another $1.2 million and community clinics that provide basic health care services to low-income and uninsured residents are under-funded. Leaving these important issues out of the Socio-economic section of the DEIS is unacceptable.
VII. Incorporation of other comments by reference
The Kahului Harbor Coalition hereby incorporates by reference all other comments submitted on this DEIS.
VIII. Conclusion of Kahului Harbor Coalition comments on “DEIS”
Act 2 itself states that the EIS “shall not be merely self serving”, shall “take into account all critiques”, and “fulfills the definition of an EIS”. The “DEIS” is self-serving, has not yet taken into account all critiques, and in no way fulfills the definition of an EIS.
Ms. Kealoha, you and your agency OEQC have a constitutional duty to “conserve and protect Hawaii’s natural beauty and all natural resources, including land, water, air, minerals, and energy sources.” OEQC, like other State agencies, has public trust responsibilities to members of the public, including our organization, to “conserve and protect” Hawaii’s unique environment.
Through ill-advised actions of the Legislature and the Governor (Act 2), great damage has been done to Chapter 343 and Hawaii’s environmental protection laws. The only way to restore what has been lost is to withdraw this “DEIS” (through non-acceptance) and begin a new proper EIS subject to Chapter 343. If OEQC accepts this fake “EIS”, OEQC will violate Article XI, Section 1 of the Hawaii Constitution. We are optimistic that OEQC will not go along with this travesty.
Kahului Harbor Coalition
Thursday, February 26, 2009
23 February 2009
Katherine Kealoha, Director
Hawaii Office of Environmental Quality Control
235 S. Beretania St., Suite 702
Fax: (808) 586-4186
Michael Formby, Deputy Director
Hawaii Department of Transportation, Harbors Division,
79 S. Nimitz Highway,
Fax: (808) 587-3652
RE: Comments for Inclusion
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
Large Capacity High Speed RO PAX ferry Alakai, Hawaii Superferry, Inc.
Impacts on Safety and Security and Public Health
Aloha Director Kealoha and Deputy Director Formby:
Mahalo for the opportunity to include comments for inclusion to the DEIS on potential impacts by the operation of large-capacity, high speed RO PAX interisland ferries, especially considering the operation by the Hawai`i Superferry, Inc. (HSF) and the wave-piercing catamaran Alakai. I am very concerned about the impacts of the arrival of this unsecured vessel in our ports. The DEIS needs to address safety issues from the presence of this new mode of transportation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified ferry systems as the number one potential maritime terrorist target in the U.S. An attack on one of the larger commuter boats could result in a higher number of deaths than an attack on commercial aircraft or trains. Ferries are also continually at risk of an accident or a natural disaster. Security of our ports is a high priority of the Department of Homeland Security from both terrorism and organized crime since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001:
"'The threat to ferries is real and we must reduce their vulnerabilities,' said Capt. Frank Sturm, chief of the Coast Guard’s office of port, vessel and facility security."
Large passenger ferries pose the greatest risk of terrorism in maritime transportation, warn the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security.
According to a Coast Guard study, large ferries received the highest risk assessment score among 80 maritime terrorist scenarios (tying with a ship carrying hazardous cargo near an urban area) because they can confine a thousand people in one space far from land and have little or no passenger screening. Many state ferry systems have instituted TSA type screenings, with bomb-sniffing dogs inspecting every passenger and many have FBI VIPER teams.
According to the August 2008, Rapid Risk Assessment of Operational Compliance and Environmental Risks of the Hawaii Superferry (HSF) prepared by Belt Collins for the Hawaii Department of Transportation, Harbors Division:
· 17% of passengers (without vehicles) were not screened nor asked about possession of prohibited items.
· 23% of vehicle interiors were not inspected.
· 30% of vehicle wheel wells were not inspected.
Only luggage, coolers, and vehicles are checked. Whatever is carried on the person goes uninspected. Conditions imposed by Governor Linda Lingle in Executive Order No. 07-10 include the visual inspections and agricultural screenings of all vehicles including engines, interiors, undercarriages, wheel wells, trunks, beds of pickup trucks, trailer equipment and vehicles, and that unscreened vehicles will not be allowed to board. The DEIS needs to address the gaps in the inspection program and the RRA cited non-compliance with EO 07-10. The impact of weapons and restricted items (including drugs) concealed on passengers bodies must be addressed.
In Honolulu Port & Harbor Security, Paul S. Schultz states:
"The State of Hawaii is unprotected and exposed with limited surveillance of its ports, critical infrastructure and borders, where:
•Majority of necessary goods are shipped through the Ports
•High potential for severe natural disasters
•No comprehensive port or port approach surveillance capability
•No coordinated or centralized monitoring at the county or state level
Maritime Security Plan (MSP) priorities include real-time surveillance of critical harbor infrastructure and tracking of all waterborne traffic within this area and the prevention and detection of potential IED attacks by small watercraft. Existing security capacity does not mitigate the vulnerabilities that could cause loss of life, threaten critical infrastructure and/or take down the economic lifeline of the State of Hawaii."
The DEIS needs to address the safety and security of our ports and islands when impacted by an unsecured new mode of high speed transport. The DEIS, as prepared, seems to consider security concerns as traffic issues, and hiring security guards and off-duty police for traffic control as sufficient. Vehicle inspections are scheduled to end in early 2009 and be only sporadic. This is unacceptable. Every vehicle must be inspected, during daytime and under fully light conditions. The DEIS must consider potential security risks to our military bases and infrastructure and threats to the public...by this new mode of inter-island unsecured transportation.
Attached please find a copy of the letter from Rear Admiral M. K. Brown, of the Fourteen Coast Guard District, that is included in Appendix A (A-1-12) of the Statewide Large Capacity Interisland Ferry DEIS. Excerpted from Rear Admiral Brown:
"The Coast Guard has an interest in protecting the safe navigation and the free flow of commerce, and has manifested this interest in the Hawaii Superferry case by issuing security zones. Federal law (NEPA) requires an independent assessment of the environmental impacts, if any, of these security zones…"
Rear Admiral Brown is right. The impact of the security zone is significant and deserves a “hard look” under NEPA. The DEIS should request a EIS to be prepared by the U.S. Coast Guard on the direct, indirect, cumulative, and secondary impacts of the implementation of security zones in the Hawai`i harbors of Nawiliwili, Honolulu, Kahului and Kawaihae and the impacts of a class of one private company monopolizing the use of large sections of our already crowded harbors. Deliveries of bulk containers of grain, cement and fuels must not be forced to wait on casual ferry operations. HSF should not be allowed to unilaterally determine the frequency and timing of their interrupting operations in the State's harbors. If HSF decided to increase operations to 4 trips per day, our harbor commerce would be severely impacted.
The DEIS needs to address Passenger and Port Safety with regard to fire suppression. Whose kuleana is it to fight fires on HSF in port? In the open ocean? Are there any emergency rescue boats that can assist in evacuation of this type of vessel?
In Appendix A. Contacted Parties, there seems to be a lack of contact with local Civil Defense agencies. The DEIS needs to include comments from county Civil Defense authorities, with clear determination of leadership roles and kuleana. The impact of unsecured vessels in our ports is significant and must be considered in the DEIS. Please contact proper local civil defense for comments.
The DEIS needs to address procedures concerning medical emergencies at sea. The DEIS must address rescue coordination with county Water Safety Divisions. Are extremely gravid women allowed to travel and is there a plan for delivering babies? The DEIS needs to address medical emergency evacuation plans, including helicopter and sea assists.
The DEIS needs to address Passenger Safety during emergencies. There are only 2 fast rescue lifeboats on the Alakai, a vessel carrying 903 people (including crew and support). There are no Marine Evacuation System (MES) slides from this tall vessel.
In Hawaii Superferry Environmental Commitments and Actions, HSF states that, “it has Advanced Lifesaving Equipment and that no loss of life has occurred on these types of vessels.” In the RAPID RISK ASSESSMENT OF OPERATIONAL COMPLIANCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS OF THE HAWAII SUPERFERRY prepared for State of Hawai‘i Department of Transportation Harbors Division, August 2008, pages 41-44, the Certificate of Inspection, United States Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, dated 24 May 2007, on the aluminum hull vessel Alakai, #1182234 (see Attachment #1) itemizes the on-board Lifesaving Equipment as follows:
· 948 life jackets for adults
· 87 lifejackets for children only
· 4 immersion suits
· 8 ring buoys
· 11 inflatable liferafts (certified for 100 people each)
There have been many advances in Lifesaving Equipment in the past century, including immersion suits and lifeboats able to withstand pretty extreme seas and weather...THE DEIS needs to address provisions of Advanced Lifesaving Equipment...and include Passenger Emergency Evacuation Information in the document.
It is not clear what “type” of vessel has not sustained losses of life. RO PAX vessels are among the highest risk type vessels, with a higher incidence of catastrophic losses including loss of life...
In their advertising, the HSF, Inc. advocates bringing children, grandparents, handicapped people and sick people to off-island doctor visits. The HSF ship has no slides for emergency evacuation of the vessel (Marine Evacuation Systems or MES). During emergency evacuation, passengers must jump off a 40 feet high ship and swim to a liferaft. Evacuation from that height would likely injure many people. How are children, kupuna and handicapped people supposed to disembark from 40 feet? Then, they are supposed to swim to a life raft? Is there a float chair for handicapped people? Are there chair locks available on the vessel? Are evacuation plans ADA compliant? These are not safe evacuation plans for open ocean water travel, with distances over 100 miles from ports. Many people panic when out of sight of land; for many, it would the first time on the open ocean. Emergency situations also generate panic. Are there ample crew to handle mass panic and emergency situations?
Richard Hiscock, a Cape Cod-based maritime safety consultant, points out that the Titanic survivors lived because lifeboats provided out-of-the-water protection, while the passengers floating in the water wearing lifejackets died of hypothermia. The water was freezing cold, with icebergs. Lifejackets and other safety devices that provide no protection from hypothermia should not be the only available equipment for babies, children, the elderly, the handicapped and able-bodied passengers who must jump overboard, he says.
Even in Hawaii's ocean waters the threat of hypothermia exists. Hypothermia can happen when the body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the body loses heat faster than it is producing it. Panic exacerbates hypothermia, drastically reducing open water survival time. When the body core temperature drops to about 87 degrees, the average person will lose consciousness and drowning is imminent. Pacific Ocean water temperatures range from 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, a sudden, unexpected entry into water may cause a reflexive "gasp" allowing water to enter the lungs. Many people “loose their breath” and panic when jumping from over 15 feet heights. Drowning can be almost instantaneous.
Your body cools down 25 times faster in water than in air. Temperature, body size, amount of body fat, general health and movement in the water all play a part in open water survival. Small people cool faster than large people and children cool faster than adults. People with impaired circulation, diabetes, chronic diseases and physical impairments have reduced rates of survival.
RO PAX vessels are a relatively new form of water transportation. Safety regulations have changed as often as hull designs. Disembarking from great heights during emergency situations is extremely dangerous; elsewhere in the world, volunteers and crew members have been killed during escape/rescue drills. Use of fast rescue boats is also very dangerous, so dangerous that Europe has outlawed their use in RO PAX ferry rescues. Amendments to part A of the STCW Code, also entering into force on 1 January 2008, add additional training requirements for the launching and recovery of fast rescue boats. The amendments were adopted in response to reports of injuries to seafarers in numerous incidents involving the launching and recovery of fast rescue boats in adverse weather conditions.
The Hawaii Superferry has met minimum Coast Guard standards. Minimum standards do not guarantee highest survivability... The DEIS needs to address alternate methods of emergency rescue with the main priority being the greatest preservation of public safety.
RO PAX ferries have experienced flooding events from extreme precipitation and huge waves overtopping vessel height and flooding vehicle decks and combinations of wind, waves, and precipitation. Rain water drains onto the vehicle decks, into the gutters, and into the bilge water piping system. There are no scuppers draining bilge water from the decks into the ocean.
The Rapid Risk Assessment states that there is a 500 liter bilge water holding tank located in Void #7. I hope this is an error – the bilge water holding tank has to be larger than 500 liters! The DEIS needs to have correct facts concerning the bilge capacity and include vehicle deck drainage volume calculations.
Hawai`i experiences extreme precipitation events. Kaua'i has received 11 inches of rain in one hour. How much precipitation runoff can the area of the open vehicle decks receive? How much precipitation can the bilge system contain? It seems the safe travel of this vessel is based upon many conditions – not just the seas being less than 6 meters (19 feet). The DEIS needs to address precipitation-generated bilge overtopping situations and consider the impact to public safety and the inclusion of precipitation events in the determination of daily travel.
Worldwide "two large ships sink every week on average," said Wolfgang Rosenthal, of the GKSS Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany. "But the cause is never studied to the same detail as an air crash, it simply is put down as 'bad weather.'" The DEIS must consider the rolling limitations of the Alakai due to extreme weather.
Besides overloading problems, most accidents on RO PAX ferries also occur because of:
· cargo shifting
· collision (other vessels or objects or ocean floor/shore)
Cargo shifting can occur because of improper loading, weather, spills and extreme sea conditions. Vehicles have already sustained damages on the Alakai from shifting. The Alakai has already sustained collision damage. Rain and large waves can fill the vehicle deck causing cargo shifting, so can leaks or spills from a vehicle. Cargo shifting can cause the ship to list, further take water and capsize. Some RO PAX ferries can capsize with less than 6 inches of water on the vehicle deck. Elsewhere there have been many fatalities in recent years from cargo shifts and vehicle deck flooding. The DEIS needs to address the safety of the public from cargo shifts and vessel flooding. If water is used for fire suppression, flooding can also result. Gasoline cans, propane tanks, and flammable materials are allowed transport in passenger vehicles. Commercial water and milk tankers could fill the vehicle decks. Loads and combinations are difficult to predict.
When RMS Titanic departed Queenstown on 11 April 1912 it carried 2,228 people: 1,343 passengers and 885 crewmembers. The vessel was equipped with 20 lifeboats of three different sizes designed to hold 1,178 persons – slightly more than one-half the number on board. Had Titanic been fully loaded – with the 3,547 people it was capable of carrying – there would have been lifeboats for less than one-third the number on board.
It is generally assumed, as a result of the Titanic disaster, that all passenger vessels are equipped with enough primary lifesaving devices (lifeboats or liferafts) – devices designed to prevent immersion in the water – for the total number of persons that can be carried onboard. The Alakai carries only 2 rescue boats, designed to assist evacuated passengers into liferafts. Would those liferafts be safe in 18 ft swells?
All vessels are required to carry life-jackets for everyone onboard. Life-jackets prevent drowning, but they do not prevent hypothermia – a lowering of core body temperature. The survivors of Titanic lived because they were out of the water. Those in the water perished in their life-jackets.
To prevent the lethal effects of hypothermia it is necessary to stay out of the water.
In a 1989 NTSB Safety Study entitled Passenger Vessels Operating From U.S. Ports the Board recommended that the U.S. Coast Guard:
"Require that ALL passenger vessels except ferries on river routes operating on short runs of 30 minutes or less have primary lifesaving equipment that prevents immersion in the water for ALL passengers and crew."
The Coast Guard did not implement the recommendations.
Unlike their U.S. counterparts, most passenger vessels in Canada have out-of-the-water equipment for everyone onboard. "I'd safely say that above 75% of Canadian passenger vessels have out-of-the-water equipment for 100% of the passengers," says Bud Streeter, director general of marine safety for Transport Canada. "In winter, all Canadian passenger vessels, except two in Vancouver's rapid transit system, have out-of-the-water equipment for everyone. And those two vessels have just received approval to install such equipment."
The Coast Guard rules are based on the probability that this will NOT happen. Industry argues that the cost is too high, and the odds of needing such equipment very low. What about the “cost” to the passengers and to the next-of-kin? What were the odds that Titanic would sink on her maiden voyage?
The NTSB “is disappointed that the Coast Guard has not acted on the recommendation” and “holds firm to its belief…that there must be 100 percent out-of-the-water survival craft for all passengers on all routes regardless of the temperature.”
The DEIS, and the Hawaii Superferry Company, Inc. need to consider Public Safety a high priority and exceed Coast Guard specifications before a catastrophe happens at sea.
Between 1989 and 1994, Lloyd's of London Register figures show that 4,583 lives were lost in accidents at sea. Of these, 1,544 were lost in accidents involving RO PAX cargo ships - exactly one third, even though RO PAX ships make up only a small fraction of world merchant marine tonnage. Although RO PAX ships are involved in an average number of accidents, the consequences of those accidents are usually far worse.
A RO PAX study was compiled by the classification society det Norske Veritas in 1983 by the IMO in Norway, covering the years 1965-1982. Of 341 accidents during the period, 217 were defined as serious and 36 resulted in the total loss of the RO PAX vessel:
ROPAX Accidents ---- Serious ------ Total Loss Accidents
collisions -------------- 24% ---------- 25%
machinery damage -- 17%
grounding ------------- 17%
cargo shift & ops ----- 16% ----------- 43%
fire and explosion ---- 14% ----------- 18%
The paper noted:
· >70% RO PAX total losses due to collision resulted in loss of lives
· 60% of ships capsizing following a collision sunk in 10 minutes
The dNV study showed that total losses as a result of a collision were much higher for RO PAX than for other ships (with only a 9% occurrence). Both collisions and uncontrolled shifts of cargo more frequently led to serious consequences with RO PAX vessels.
Even in the era of advanced navigation techniques, large vessel groundings are still occurring in Hawai`i:
· US Navy Port Royal damages coral reef off O`ahu Feb. 19, 2009. Ship had discharged 7,000 gallons of wastewater and marine diesel when it was grounded.
· July 1, 2005 NOAA-contract Research Vessel Casitas on Pearl & Hermes reef. The 145 foot RV Casitas, on a mission to remove marine debris from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, ran hard aground near North Island at Pearl and Hermes Atoll, 1,000 miles northwest of Oahu and 86 nautical miles east southeast of Midway Islands, causing severe damage to the ship and spilling oil into a designated marine reserve. The vessel was steaming from Midway to Maro Reef for further marine debris clean-up activity when it ran onto the reef. The vessel had 16 NOAA/Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR) divers from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) and a crew of 8 onboard.
The structural integrity of the vessels after sustaining collision damage needs to be seriously considered. The DEIS must consider the seaworthiness of this vessel and the impact to passenger safety. The US Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection criteria determine what seastates this vessel is rated for.
Over the last two decades more than 200 supercarriers - cargo ships over 200m long - have been lost at sea. Eyewitness reports suggest many were sunk by huge and steep walls of water that rose up out of flat seas.
Waves that come out of nowhere, sometimes in a relatively calm sea. Rogue waves. Beginning in the 1990s, sailors and scientists began to suspect that rogue waves were responsible for many more losses at sea than they had previously guessed...
Previously, data collected by weather ships suggested that such waves would occur only every 50 years or more. In 2004, the European Space Agency (ESA) used data from two radar-equipped satellites to see how frequent rogue waves actually are. After analyzing radar images of worldwide oceans taken over a period of three weeks, the ESA's MaxWave Project found 10 waves 82 feet (25 meters) or higher.
Ironically, while the MaxWave research was going on, two tourist liners endured terrifying ordeals. The Breman and the Caledonian Star cruiseliners had their bridge windows smashed by 30 ft waves in the South Atlantic. The Bremen was left drifting for two hours after the encounter, with no navigation or propulsion...
Other hard evidence of monster waves comes from instruments designed to measure wave heights. One such instrument was mounted on an offshore oil rig known as the Draupner Platform. On New Year's Day 1995, the platform was measuring waves no more than 16 to 23 feet (5 to 7 meters) high. Then it suddenly registered a single wave almost 66 feet (20 meters) high. Canadian weather buoys near Vancouver recorded waves 100 feet high and higher throughout the 1990s.
The DEIS must consider the potential impact on the Alakai of rogue wave strikes.
No alternate hull designs or sizes were considered in the DEIS, nor was the alternative of a passenger-only ferry considered. Smaller, slower and more appropriate hull designs should have been considered, as well as alternative, hybrid and combination fuel technologies. The DEIS should consider a No Vehicle Alternative, as well as No Passenger Vehicles (Commercial Only) alternative.
I am concerned about the use of the landing ramps and the use of tugboats to hold the barge/ramp in place, which invalidates the warranty and intended use of the ramps. Do the engineering studies reflect whether this is safe for public transit? The DEIS needs to address the question of whether using barges made in China are actually legal for commerce in Hawai`i.
The DEIS needs to address the recommended maintenance and inspection schedule for the barges, including how the barges will be hauled out, who pays for maintenance and insurance?
Hawaii County is rated 3rd in the US for earthquake risk (behind San Francisco and San Jose) and is the only county in the top 10 earthquake risk counties not in California. The largest earthquake potential is on the flanks of Mauna Loa-Kilauea (Magnitude 8) and Hualalai with up to Magnitude 7 events possible throughout Hawaii Island. Kawaihae Harbor has sustained major earthquake damage, and yet I see no seismic provisions in the DEIS. Impacts to projected infrastructure development from large earthquake events should be considered and safety plans developed in the DEIS.
The HSF expects to hit whales. What is the impact to the integrity of the ship after a whale strike? The DEIS needs to address the safety of passengers during the expected whale strikes and the safety of the ship post-strike. The rudder has sustained damages so severe that the overall fuel efficiency was reduced by 5%. The hull has also sustained severe damage. Is there a subsequent 5% reduction of structural integrity? How many more impacts of this nature can this vessel sustain?
The DEIS does not consider the impact to Public Health of the island residents and animals from the mixing of the communicable diseases and problems unique to each outer-island population. Outer islands have enacted different Dengue Fever restrictions. Avian flu must be considered.
The DEIS has no consideration for preventing the spread of rat lungworm disease that has recently surfaced on Hawaii Island and must consider the impact to public health and agriculture from the spread of these organisms.
Rat lungworm is caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a parasitic nematode carried in the pulmonary arteries of rats. The rats excrete worm larvae in their feces, which are sometimes eaten by small snails and slugs that often nestle in the folds of lettuce, peppers and other produce. When people ingest the small worm, it travels from the gastrointestinal tract to the central nervous system and can cause meningitis, coma or even death. Parmarion martensi, a newly introduced snail, and semi-slugs are common hosts for the rat lungworm. The DEIS must address the potential spread of this Rat Lungworm as a public health risk and consider the potential impacts to the agriculture of our state and continue inspections of every vehicle and agricultural shipment to prevent the spread of infected snails, slugs and semi-slugs.
There have been recent instances of ships being turned away from ports because of sick people onboard, as with the Norwalk-like virus experienced on cruise ships. After allowing offloading of passengers on Kaua'i, a ship was turned away from docking on Maui and returned to Mexico. The DEIS should address ways to deal with public health problems like communicable diseases.
Many people have reportedly gotten seasick due to travel on the Alakai, which may mask symptoms of other communicable illness. Visibly sick travelers are barred from airlines. What provisions does HSF have for detection of communicable diseases from seasickness? Is there really time to disinfect the ship in between sailings?
Open oceans are full of rubbish - marine debris consisting of fishing nets lost or discarded at sea (ghost nets) by non-Hawaiian fishing vessels operating in waters far away from Hawaii. Some are miles long and are carried in the ocean currents for months or years where they become entangled in reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and pose a significant threat to highly endangered Hawaiian monk seals and other marine life. For over a decade, NOAA has conducted marine debris clean-ups in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Over 100 metric tons of debris have been collected and removed annually during these clean-up missions.
The DEIS should consider the impact of marine debris on the intake jets of the Alakai's propulsion system and to the safety of the passengers and crew.
Thank you for the inclusion of my comments in the DEIS.