Friday, July 26, 2013

Musings: Limiting Exposure

This morning I watched two county workers spraying herbicides on the triangle of land that lies across from St.Catherine's and Kapaa High School. One was spraying weeds that easily could have been mowed, weedwhacked or – god forbid – pulled, while the other was systematically saturating a mowed strip of grass along a heavily trafficked residential street.

These are men who, as county workers, presumably have undergone pesticide training and been advised of OSHA regulations. But neither was wearing gloves, masks or any other protection.

The triangle is an area where I regularly see children playing and riding their bikes, people walking their dogs and high school students parking their cars. Yet none of them will have a clue, save perhaps for the lingering odor of pesticides, that the ground where they're walking barefoot, in slippers, or with a pet, has just been dosed with chemicals.

On the other side of the island, where the chemical companies grow their seed crops, the same scenario is also playing out, though with greater regularity. DuPont Pioneer alone has admitted in court documents to spraying its fields on 65% of the days between 2007-12. Besides herbicides like Roundup, it's spraying restricted use pesticides — the gnarliest of the gnarly. And though Pioneer spokeswoman Laurie Yoshida claimed the company hadn't used atrazine “for several years,” court documents show was used in 2012.

DuPont Pioneer most frequently applies a class of herbicides known as chloroacetanilides, which are primarily applied to the soil before or shortly after weed germination to control the growth of weeds. According to court documents, Pioneer used 16,000 pounds of these particular herbicides, including alachlor, a restricted use chemical, in that five year period, along with 20 other insecticides, herbicides and fungicides in quantities ranging from 9,000 to less than 1,000 pounds each.
Source: Plaintiffs' attorneys Jervis & Smith
Look how close Pioneer's fields are to the sea, highway and Waimea town and river. Can Pioneer honestly say the chemicals it's applying to its sloped, windswept fields are not entering fresh and salt water, much less drifting into homes, yards, schools, shops or even vehicles passing by?

The company also sprays Lorsban Advance. The active ingredient in this organophosphate is chlorpyrifos, which the EPA prohibits from use in outdoor and residential areas where children could be exposed.

And though the state frequently claims this stuff is no cause for alarm, the state's own pesticide training materials warn:

Organophosphates “inhibit a chemical, called cholinesterase, in the nervous system of humans. A large exposure causes acute illness. Smaller exposures cause no apparent problem at first. They inhibit the cholinesterase, but not enough to cause immediate illness. Small, repeated exposures to these pesticides over several days or weeks may greatly reduce cholinesterase levels in the body. At that point, even a small exposure to a pesticide with relatively low cholinesterase-inhibiting properties may trigger severe illness.”

Its training materials also state, emphasis added:

Scientists, pesticide manufacturers, and the Environmental Protection Agency cannot yet be sure what the delayed effects of too much exposure to individual pesticides or combinations of pesticides may be. It may be years before there are clear answers on the effects of all the pesticides and combinations of pesticides in use today.

Meanwhile. it makes good sense to reduce your exposure to all pesticides as much as possible.”

But how can one do this if one is not informed, be it by the government or a chemical seed company, that an area has been or is about to be sprayed?

People have a right to know so they can take steps to limit their exposure if they so choose.

Bill 2491, which has its public hearing next Wednesday afternoon at the Kauai Veterans Center, seeks to require the main consumers of restricted use pesticides to disclose details on what, where and when they're spraying this stuff.

It's not a perfect bill, and I wish it addressed the county's use of pesticides, since those chemicals are applied to public parks and roadways where we the people are unwittingly exposed.

But it's a start. And if nothing else, it's pushing this community to have a discussion about pesticides that is long overdue. 

We need to stop pretending that this stuff is benign, and that it doesn't have singular and cumulative impacts on both human and environmental health.


Anonymous said...

Kauai= poison

Anonymous said...

I just drove by St Catherine's and there were 2 boys, maybe 9 year olds wrestling with a puppy right where you show the County worker was spraying.

Anonymous said...

With Pakalolo they say " we need to study it more to prove its benign before we can legalize it" and with pesticide poisons they say "we need to study it more to prove its not benign before we make it illegal"

Mel, you talked of respecting the host culture at your inauguration. Respecting our host culture. Please you must know all these poisons on the land are not the right way. Malama Aina. Malama Aina.

Anonymous said...

One of those two little boys will get to be a cancer survivor one day!

Our council could, but won't prevent that.

Andy Parx said...

The location of the public hearing has been moved to the Vet Center.

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Andy. I've updated the post to reflect that. Wonder what the "unforeseen circumstances" were that prompted the move?

Anonymous said...

@10:33 --- That's SO SICK the county exposing children and puppies to poison.

Where are the warning notices Lenny Rapozo and Larry Dill? Does the mayor even know/care? (No.)

Anonymous said...

KCC was worried about security and disturbances that's why it pulled out.

Anonymous said...

So what do we say to the tourist? The brown grass along the road is because of lack of water? Do we just smile when we are told how lucky we are to live in such a green "paradise"? Or do we come clean with the reality of the situation?

Anonymous said...

maybe KCC has too much parking and is a bit easier to get in, w/ better sound system, lighting and seating....wasnt that structure supposed to be the best venue on the island when it was built ? as far as 'security and disturbances' ....i dont think so...people just want to know the truth....for now its non-confrontational....but if something doesnt change it will escalate to ????

Anonymous said...

The conspiracy to kill bill 2491 has long begun. Interesting-Who is in collusion?

Elaine Albertson said...

There was even a statement that the Vets Center had "more seating." Not. It also has no bus stop other than the courthouse, and an on-call stop at Vidinha Stadium. It seemed to me that the county was trying to limit the amount of participation by limiting the venue and access to it. They could have done it at the War Memorial, which has a bus stop and plenty of parking. Something's not right here. What a mess.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that caused the American Revolution ... (speaking about the King, and justifying the Declaration of Independence) ....

"He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. "

From Declaration of Independence 1776

Anonymous said...

Once again the county leaves the liability issues wide open. We will pay dearly for these actions in the future. Thanks Bernard! Anybody interested in running for Mayor?

Anonymous said...

I think the reason they moved it was so that KPD could have a large presence there. It's pretty much right next to headquarters.
Plus having a public meeting expected to be attended by hundreds, if not thousands, would effectively close campus. I'm not sure how many kids have summer classes, but it would sure be a pain to have one when the hearing is going on.

Anonymous said...

If you believe that public testimony will impact the vote on this bill or that the venue was moved to quash participation, you're naive and paranoid.

Anonymous said...

Oh my Gosh, the sky is falling!

Anonymous said...

lets see if they move it again, maybe to the convention hall a couple days before the event, then the reasons will be obvious, and those who made the decisions as for venue will reveal where those in charge stand

Anonymous said...

Convention halll been booked for a long time. Theres no conspiracy.

Anonymous said...

They say a "naked man never lies".
Maybe Syngenta and Pioneer and the Government officials should leave their clothes at the door.

Or, lets have a "spray off"......spray the officials against the bill with restricted use pesticides if they believe they are "so safe."

Who runs the show on this island?
The companies from Dow Chemical and Syngenta. Kauai has become the "lab rat" to them, and money in the banks of Switzerland.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

I just don't know what to say anymore! It is so obvious and has been for a while that we, especially in Waimea, are being sprayed to death! No matter what way the wind blows, we get the drift---Pioneer from the trades, Syngenta from the Kona winds. No wonder there are so many people with illnesses here . . . . but then, where's the help for us? Who can we look to for help? We have given up on politicians! But then there is councilman Hooser---there is hope, now we have to have faith!

Anonymous said...

KCC was worried about security and disturbances that's why it pulled out: it was an intimation from Pioneer.

Anonymous said...

Very good reporting, Joan. I believe that run-off so close to the ocean is blatantly criminal. It is the stateʻs job to protect resources so how is this ok?

Anonymous said...

"lets see if they move it again, maybe to the convention hall a couple days before the event, then the reasons will be obvious, and those who made the decisions as for venue will reveal where those in charge stand"

The Miss Kauai Filipina pageant booked the Convention Hall. How many of you actually read the bill? If you did and knew anything about civics, then you'd know that the bill is just pandering to the anti-gmo crowd. The federal and state governments already have laws and the personnel to deal with the issue. Instead of forcing the County to take on a responsibility that it is ill equipped to deal with, you ought to be bombarding your state legislators and the governor demanding that they force the department of health and department of ag to take action. But why try to do what's right when you can create political theater to advance your career?

Anonymous said...

We have given up on politicians! But then there is councilman Hooser---there is hope, now we have to have faith!

Yeah, he did a lot about the issue when he was in the Senate.

Anonymous said...

Or, lets have a "spray off"......spray the officials against the bill with restricted use pesticides if they believe they are "so safe."

Let's spray those officials who are supposed to be dealing with the issue. The County is about roads, sewers, water, fire and police and they can barely handle those responsibilities. Where was Hooser on this issue when he was in the Senate? These chemical/pesticide companies have been operating on Kauai for years and what did Hooser do about it when he actually had the clout to deal with it? Who in the County has the expertise to tell one pesticide from another or one non-gmo plant from a gmo plant?

Anonymous said...

"Very good reporting, Joan. I believe that run-off so close to the ocean is blatantly criminal. It is the stateʻs job to protect resources so how is this ok?"

That's a bingo! It's the State's job! Go bombard Senator Kouchi and Representatives Kawakami, Tokioka and Morikawa with e-mails and letters. Write to Governor Abercombie. Tell them to get off their asses and protect us from these pesticide/chemical companies. Stop calling them seed companies. They're Dow, Monsanto, BASF, Dupont, etc.

Anonymous said...

Here are some of the chapters in the Hawaii Revised Statutes that deal with poisons/ pesticides:

330 Poisons, Sale of
330C Hawaii Poison Prevention Packaging Act
340E Safe Drinking Water
341 Environmental Quality Control
342B Air Pollution Control
342D Water Pollution
342E Nonpoint Source Pollution Management and Control
342I Special Wastes Recycling
342J Hazardous Waste

Here's a sample of the laws available to deal with poison/pesticide runoff:

§342D-50 Prohibition. (a) No person, including any public body, shall discharge any water pollutant into state waters, or cause or allow any water pollutant to enter state waters except in compliance with this chapter, rules adopted pursuant to this chapter, or a permit or variance issued by the director.

(b) No person, including any public body, shall knowingly establish, extend, or alter any system of drainage, sewage, or water supply, or undertake any project in sewage outfall areas where there may be a possibility of alteration of currents depended upon for dilution without first securing approval in writing from the director.

(c) No person, including any industrial user, shall discharge any water pollutant or effluent into a publicly owned treatment works or sewerage system in violation of:

(1) A pretreatment standard established by the department or the publicly owned treatment works; or

(2) A pretreatment condition in a permit issued by the department or a publicly owned treatment works.

(d) No person, including any public body, shall violate any rule adopted pursuant to this chapter or any permit or variance issued or modified pursuant to this chapter. [L 1989, c 212, pt of §2; am L 1995, c 180, §14]

Here's another:

[§342D-52] Testing of water and aquatic and other life. The director may test any water and aquatic and other life that has been subjected to an oil spill or any other form of water pollution and assess the environmental effects of the pollution, including its effects on:

(1) The quality of the receiving water; and

(2) Aquatic and other life.

If the department determines that the effects are such that it would be hazardous to consume the aquatic or other life, the department shall immediately notify the public of that hazard through the news media and by posting warning signs in the areas where the water and shoreline contain aquatic or other life that would be hazardous to consume. [L 1989, c 212, pt of §2]

Anonymous said...

Here's a couple more:

[§342E-2] Nonpoint source pollution management and control program; rules. (a) There is established within the department a nonpoint source pollution management and control program to administer, enforce, and carry out all laws, rules, and programs relating to nonpoint source pollution in the State. The program may request the assistance of the clean water branch staff of the department, whenever necessary, in administering this chapter and, upon request, shall assist in the implementation and enforcement of chapter 342D.

(b) The nonpoint source pollution management and control program shall administer this chapter through the director. The director may delegate to any person the power and authority vested in the director by this chapter as the director deems reasonable and proper for the effective administration of this chapter, except the power to make rules. [L 1993, c 345, pt of §2]

Anonymous said...

Here's another:

[§342E-3] Powers and duties of the director. (a) In addition to any other power or duty prescribed by law, the director shall:

(1) Reduce, control, and mitigate nonpoint source pollution in the State;

(2) Adopt rules under chapter 91 necessary for the purposes of this chapter, which may include water quality standards for specific areas, types of nonpoint source pollution discharges, or management measures in the control of water pollution, allowing for varying local conditions;

(3) Develop plans, recommendations, and policies, and provide other support to further the State’s capacity to carry out the requirements of any federal law, rule, or regulation pertinent to the management or mitigation of nonpoint source pollution;

(4) Work cooperatively with other state, county, and federal agencies, to facilitate the monitoring of and update the list of waters in the State that cannot reasonably be expected to attain or maintain state water quality standards and goals established under the federal Water Quality Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-4) without additional action to control nonpoint source pollution;

(5) Identify those categories of nonpoint sources that add significant pollution to the state waters identified under paragraph (4);

(6) Facilitate implementation of the best management practices, programs, and measures to control each category of nonpoint source pollution identified under paragraph (5), and encourage nonpoint source pollution mitigation practices including, but not limited to, the use of non-hazardous substances in the household and agroforestry management;

(7) Identify public and private sources of expertise, technical assistance, financial assistance, educational assistance, training, and technology transfer;

(8) Convene statewide and regional public forums involving the general public, the regulatory community, and businesses and industries that may contribute to categories of nonpoint source pollution for the purpose of establishing plans, and developing management strategies and other mitigation measures to control and manage nonpoint source pollution;

(9) Provide funding for projects to demonstrate the best available technology and best management practices for preventing and mitigating nonpoint source pollution;

(10) Provide funding for public initiative projects to encourage education and prevention measures relating to nonpoint source pollution;

(11) Propose legislation, alternate funding mechanisms, and new programs to improve the State’s capacity to mitigate nonpoint source pollution; and

(12) Review environmental assessments and environmental impact statements as defined under section 343-2 for the purposes of commenting on the effects that a proposed action would have on the level of nonpoint source pollution generated in an area.

(b) In the course of enforcing any rule adopted pursuant to this chapter, the director may:

(1) Enter and inspect any area to investigate an actual or suspected source of nonpoint pollution, to ascertain compliance or noncompliance with any rule or standard adopted by the department pursuant to this chapter;

(2) Inspect any records kept in accordance with the terms and conditions of rules adopted under this chapter; and

(3) Test any waters and aquatic and other life forms that may have been subjected to any form of nonpoint source pollution and assess the environmental effects of the pollution, including the pollution’s effects on the quality of the receiving waters and aquatic and other life forms; provided that if the department determines that the effects of the pollution would make it hazardous to consume the water and aquatic or other life forms, the department shall immediately notify the public of the hazard through the news media and by posting warning signs in those areas where the waters and shoreline contain water and aquatic or other life forms that would be hazardous if consumed. [L 1993, c 345, pt of §2]

Anonymous said...

Here's a chapter that deals specifically with pesticides:


Part I. General Provisions
149A-1 Short title
149A-2 Definitions
149A-3 Delegation of duties
149A-4 Effect of chapter on department of health

Part II. Pesticide Licensing and Sale
149A-11 Prohibited acts
149A-12 Exemptions
149A-13 Procedure for licensing pesticides
149A-13.5 Pesticide use revolving fund; pesticide training workshops; training fee

149A-14 Refusal, cancellation, or suspension of the license
149A-15 Labeling requirements
149A-15.5 Pesticide information signs
149A-16 Coloration of certain pesticides
149A-17 Sales, permit, and record
149A-18 Denial, suspension, or revocation of permit
149A-19 Determination; rules; uniformity
149A-20 Seizures; "stop-sale" and "removal from sale" orders
149A-21 Enforcement
149A-22 Authority
149A-23 Cooperation
Part III. Pesticide Use
149A-31 Prohibited acts
149A-32 Repealed
149A-32.5 Cancellation or suspension of pesticide uses
149A-33 Rules
149A-34 Denial, suspension, or revocation of certificate
149A-35 Cooperation
149A-36 Authority to inspect
149A-37 Exemptions
149A-38 Repealed
Part IV. Violations, Warning Notice, and Penalties

149A-41 Violations, warning notice, and penalties
Part V. Advisory Committee

149A-51 Advisory committee

Part VI. Miscellaneous Provisions

149A-52 Severability
149A-53 Applicability of chapter 91

Anonymous said...

Joan if you could verify where you got the Waimea graphic from.

Is it a part of a study from a reliable source?

I would encourage all sides to have verifiable studies to quote from - No innuendo or corporate propaganda should be allowed.

I have a great idea for anti gmo signs (after seeing todays paper)


Mahalo for all you do Joan

Joan Conrow said...

You're right, I should identify the source of info and graphics. This one came from the recent presentation at Waimea by Kyle Smith and Gerald Jervis, attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Pioneer pesticide dust suit.

Also, to the person who posted the legal citations, mahalo. It is important for people to understand that these substances are regulated.

It seems like enforcement is the issue, per usual.

Anonymous said...

The Hooser bill regulates pesticide DUST and drift, not pestidides use. The HRS specifically instructs the Counties to regulate all types of dust.

And 46-17 HRS also says a County regulation related to dust/drift prevails over any competing State law where the county law " affords more protection to the public".

ChemCo. wants you to think its the State's job to regulate all things pesticide, but that might not be true as to dust and drift. Actually, the law that provides greater protection would prevail, as it should.

Anonymous said...

Yes there are lots of laws already in place. But no law that requires the companies to disclose what they are using. And no law to prevent these agrochemical greedy corporations from spraying their poison next to schools.

Anonymous said...

I have an inkling that there will be a fracas on the 31st, and it'll be initiated by the biotech employees.

I'm willing to bet pizza.

Anonymous said...

Yes there is a law requiring them to disclose its the new pesticide registry.

Anonymous said...

Sigh. While spraying is indeed ridiculous, the amount of sky-is-falling hysteria about these pesticides ruins any chance of people being taken seriously. Reading the comments, it seems 90% are tin foil hat types.

Anonymous said...

46-17 allows the counties to regulate or prohibit "noise, smoke, dust, vibration, or odors which constitute a public nuisance". But HRS 165-2 reads as follows:

§165-2 Definitions. As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

"Farming operation" means a commercial agricultural, silvicultural, or aquacultural facility or pursuit conducted, in whole or in part, including the care and production of livestock and livestock products, poultry and poultry products, apiary products, and plant and animal production for nonfood uses; the planting, cultivating, harvesting, and processing of crops; and the farming or ranching of any plant or animal species in a controlled salt, brackish, or freshwater environment. "Farming operation" includes but shall not be limited to:

(1) Agricultural-based commercial operations as described in section [205-2(d)(15)];

(2) Noises, odors, dust, and fumes emanating from a commercial agricultural or an aquacultural facility or pursuit;

(3) Operation of machinery and irrigation pumps;

(4) Ground and aerial seeding and spraying;

(5) The application of chemical fertilizers, conditioners, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides; and

(6) The employment and use of labor.

A farming operation that conducts processing operations or salt, brackish, or freshwater aquaculture operations on land that is zoned for industrial, commercial, or other nonagricultural use shall not, by reason of that zoning, fall beyond the scope of this definition; provided that those processing operations form an integral part of operations that otherwise meet the requirements of this definition.

"Nuisance" means any interference with reasonable use and enjoyment of land, including but not limited to smoke, odors, dust, noise, or vibration; provided that nothing in this chapter shall in any way restrict or impede the authority of the State to protect the public health, safety, and welfare. "Nuisance" as used in this chapter, includes all claims that meet the requirements of this definition regardless of whether a complainant designates such claims as brought in nuisance, negligence, trespass, or any other area of law or equity; provided that nuisance as used in this chapter does not include an alleged nuisance that involves water pollution or flooding. [L 1982, c 256, pt of §1; am L 1986, c 242, §2; am L 1993, c 162, §2; am L 2001, c 26, §1; am L 2012, c 113, §1]

And HRS Sec. 165-4 states that:

§165-4 Right to farm. No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices. There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a farming operation does not constitute a nuisance. [L 1982, c 256, pt of §1; am L 1986, c 242, §3; am L 2001, c 26, §2]

So you have a specific statute that says you can't declare farming operations a nuisance and that trumps the general statute that allows the counties to regulate dust as a "public nuisance".

Anonymous said...

And don't get me wrong. The pesticide/chemical companies should be regulated. But there are laws and agencies already in place to deal with these issues and the energy being placed in passing this bill could be better spent haranguing the State agencies that are supposed to be looking out for the public.

Anonymous said...

But that won't help Gary's campaign for mayor!

Amy said...

Great post, Joan. I am surprised the county does not have to put those little flags out warning children and people with pets not to walk on the treated areas for a certain amount of time. At any rate, keep up the good work in bringing these exposures to light. Amy

Anonymous said...

Hawaii Revised Statutes § 46-17 Allows for Hawaii’s Counties to regulate certain public nuisances, stating in relevant part:

Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the council of any county may adopt and provide for the enforcement of ordinances regulating or prohibiting noise, smoke, dust, vibration, or odors which constitute a public nuisance. No such ordinance shall be held invalid on the ground that it covers any subject or matter embraced within any statute or rule of the State; provided that in any case of conflict between a statute or rule and an ordinance, the law affording the most protection to the public shall apply.

WHEREAS: Article XI, section 9 of the Hawaii Constitution promises that “Each person has the right to a clean and healthful environment, as defined by laws relating to environmental quality, including control of pollution and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural resources….”

Anonymous said...

and if Gary really wants to be mayor, he gets my vote! Don't get all huffy because he isn't professing what you want to hear.