Monday, May 16, 2011

Musings: So it Goes

A gray mouse was riding a motorcycle down a short, rose-colored track when the dogs and I went out walking this morning. To the left of that scene shone Venus, and what I believe was Jupiter, though it could have Mercury, seeing as how the planets have been ganging up lately, while in the distance, lavender-scarlet anvils and towers were sidling up to Kalalea.

The roosters — I now live near a very large fighting cock farm — had been up for hours, giddy over the nearly full moon and cheering, like a crowd rooting for the home team, the approach of a golden dawn, which created shadow play on the green peaks of Makaleha and revealed, for the first time since I moved here, the white-streaked summit of Waialeale.

I’ve been immersed the past week in work and the world of moving — packing, unpacking, loading, unloading, cleaning, dirtying — and while it’s not over yet, the end is in sight.

The same could be said of KIUC, which on Friday finally received a federal permit that allows it to legally kill 162 adult Newell’s shearwaters and another 18 eggs and/or chicks with its — or rather, our — lights and power lines every year. I wondered how the feds came up with those particular numbers, seeing as no one really knows just how many `A`o are left in this world, or how many the population can stand to lose before drifting into extinction.

I wondered if KIUC would dutifully report all its dead and wounded, especially if it goes over the limit, and how many more are “taken,” but no one notices, because they fall in remote areas or their bodies are ground into the pavement before they can be recovered and counted.

And I wondered how many of these native seabirds had been killed since 1995, when the utility was directed to get its incidental take permit as part of the consent decree between the community and what was then Kauai Electric over the placement of lines through Kalihiwai.

But hey, I guess 16 years late is better than nevah.

KIUC still has to get its state permit before the federal permit is valid, but rather than follow DLNR’s directive and do an environmental assessment, it’s appealing that requirement to the governor, further delaying the process.

I try to have faith and trust in our utility, but seeing the foot-dragging, law-skirting approach that it’s taken with the Newell’s makes me just a bit uneasy about its FERC-directed foray into hydroelectric.

While the lack of coverage may have caused some to forget about the nuclear catastrophe in Japan, it seems Tokyo Electric Co. has now acknowledged that two more of its reactors suffered core meltdown and it suspects the containment vessel is damaged and leaking highly radioactive water at its No. 1 reactor. Where that leakage is going isn't made clear, but there are two likely places: land and sea.

Meanwhile, is reporting that a new map of ground surface contamination shows high levels of radiation in areas outside of the evacuation zone. In some areas where people are still living, it was higher than the mandatory relocation zone around the Chernobyl plant.

"I am surprised by the extent of the contamination and the vast area it covers," said Tetsuji Imanaka, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute.

And I wondered just how much officials do and don't know, and how much they aren't saying.

What really brought it home, though, was this video clip from The Guardian about dairy farmers who have returned to tend their cows in the evacuation zone. The cows survived, but now the farmers fear their soil is too contaminated to grow the feed their animals need, which means the end of their cows and their farms and the food they produce to feed others.

And so it goes as we poison the earth, and along with it ourselves.


Anonymous said...

Welcome back Joan. Missed your musings lately...moving is a bitch but let's hope this is a better place for you and Koko. I was surprised about the "issues" you've had w/ Andy. I took his World Civilization class and got a lot from it. I enjoyed his teaching style. Surprised he wasn't more responsible w/ his dogs or more sensitive to you.

Here's to new beginnings.

Anonymous said...

KIUC is probably reeling from the 17 million in lost federal funding to underground the wires.
Looks like the owners us will have to pony up with larger bills.

Special thanks to the misguided fools protesting the widening of Kuhio Hwy.

Anonymous said...

Just had a call from SMS Research conducting a survey for KIUC. Some of the questions included, "Do you support renewable energy?" and "Do you support hydroelectric?" It will be interesting to see if the entire survey results are released, or will KIUC just release the questions and responses that promote hydroelectric. Never mind that other issues such as questions on environmental impacts were not included in the survey.

Anonymous said...

Chances are theyʻll release puffery and select questions.
Chances are too that they wonʻt word things right either:
For instance, the debate now is not about PRO or CON Hydro; it is about the FERC process and the Memorandum of Agreement they entered into with a mainland company without informing, not only the members, but the Board members before the vote.
FERC will overide all State water law protections and control the flow of nothing if they want.