Winter-Spring 1984 Home   Newsletters

Summer 1984

Fall 1984

Gender Gap: It's Real!
Water, Our Most Precious Resource (What Shall We Do?) (Linda Lai Hipp)
Happy Birthday Hawaii County LWV
Mr. Herman Goes to Convention (Peter Herman)
League Talks To... Sen. Chang, Rep. Okamura, Bill Dendle
Council
League Welcomes Dot

League Talks To... Sen. Chang, Rep. Okamura, Bill Dendle

 

SENATOR ANTHONY CHANG Chair Senate Committee on Energy Environment and Recreation

REPRESENTATIVE TOM OKAMURA Chair House Committee on Energy Ecology and Environmental Protection

BILL DENDLE Associate Project Director of the Pesticide Hazard Assessment Project

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SIGNIFICANT GAINS MADE IN THE AREA OF PESTICIDE POLLUTION AND CONTROL DURING THE 1984 LEGISLATIVE SESSION?

The 1984 Legislature did not make substantial progress in the control of pesticides. There was a perceived crisis which may diminish in intensity as we move forward. Because of the Legislature directive to the OEQC, I am looking forward to three things. First, defining what are the health risks to the public from the use of pesticides. Second, a comparison of these risks to other health and safety concerns. And lastly, determining the costs which would be entailed to minimize or eliminate identified risks.

The 1984 Legislature voted to fund and designate the OEQC as the lead agency for coordinating pesticide issues in Hawaii. I found that the 1983-84 legislative interim committee report showed an appalling lack of communication and coordination among the various agencies concerned with pesticides. By designating the OEQC as the lead agency and establishing an advisory council on pesticides, we should be able to get a better handle on some of the coordination problems.

The 1984 Legislature did not enact any substantial legislation to assure public safety. However, lawmakers did reach consensus on the pesticide issue. They generally agreed that the use of pesticides is a problem that, is not going to disappear, and that it must be dealt with in the near future. Legislators agreed to have the Office of Environmental Quality Control (OEQC) coordinate the monitoring, tracking and research of all pesticide issues. The Legislature appropriated $160,000 to the OEQC to structure such a program.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE THE MOST PRESSING HAZARDS THE STATE IS FACING FROM PESTICIDE USE?

I personally feel that the most pressing concern facing the State is the lack of information dealing with pesticide use. When you consider that Hawaii is the number one user of pesticides (in pounds of active ingredients per hectare), our lack of knowledge of the synergistic and other effects of these substances in the environment is a very serious problem.

Water contamination is a major problem. We need to prevent existing, and any potential future contamination of the water lens. We need better educational programs for employees who work with and apply pesticides.

A major problem as I see it is the non-sharing of information, the fragmentation of the problem into narrow departmental confines. The Governor's Task Force on Water Contamination, the only committee formed with multi-disciplinary and multi-agency representation, was disbanded by Dept. of Health Director Charles Clark. This task force had the expertise and participation of the federal, state and city governments, and the University of Hawaii. I find that information on water contamination is not being shared; the problem is fragmented into narrow departmental confines. There is also an immediate need for more studies into the synergistic effects of water contamination, especially as it relates to health problems of the very young and old.

DO YOU FEEL THE STATE SHOULD HAVE A SEPARATE ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICE?

I do not feel a separate environmental office is needed at this point in time because the relationship between health and the environment in Hawaii is a good one.

In its 1983-84 session, the Legislature requested that the Legislative Reference Bureau study the feasibility of a State Environmental Protection Agency. This study should be available by the 1985 session. Regarding the Dept. of Health's ability to adequately handle pesticide contamination problems, I would say it is eleventh on their list of 10 priorities.

We've gotten a separate environmental office by funding the OEQC. However the office was originally attached to the Governor's office to assure its independence. Attaching it later to the Department of Health has thwarted the legislative intent in forming the office. Attaching OEQC to the Health Department has basically created a conflict of interest situation.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE NEXT LEGISLATIVE SESSION DO?

I would very much like the Legislature to increase the resources devoted to hazard assessment and detection, specifically pesticides and hazardous wastes.

We have to begin working on the entire problem of hazardous wastes. Hawaii is one of two states that does not yet have a hazardous waste program. Region IX of the EPA now takes care of this program, but they do not require reporting unless an industry uses 1,000 kilograms or more a month. Hawaii has very few users in this class, but there are many smaller users whose waste disposals are not being regulated. The military is the State's largest user and it periodically sells its surplus chemicals. No records are kept on these sales. The State must develop a tracking system to monitor the chemicals coming into the State and the disposal of hazardous substances. We must also develop a program to collect hazardous wastes from households to ensure the proper disposal of small amounts of waste. We have tentatively set a public meeting on this issue in late August. If anyone is interested in more information, they can call my office at 548-7805 in early August.

The OEQC should have an independent status and a professional director. A "cradle-to-grave" registration system for restricted pesticides must be established. A daily pollen count should be established and publicized because this factor directly influences upper respiratory disorders. Accountability for pesticide hazards must be clearly set. This includes standards to be set specifically for Hawaii. Environmental risks of restricted chemicals should be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement process. The Legislature should support the Department of Health's efforts to test water and report the results.


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