Letters for Friday, June 15, 2012

The Shadow knows • Electric cars • Think twice before fumigating • Dreams

The Shadow knows

I want to thank the mayor, Bernard Carvalho, Jr., and his communications specialist, Beth Tokioka, for giving me the chance to point out all of my public safety issues. Working with both the Public Works Department and Parks and Recreation on safety, I meet with Beth Tokioka every two weeks. We follow up on questions and issues regularly. We go through photographs on public safety issues brought to my attention by the public. We try to track progress reports as they come in until conditions are brought into line.

To bring public safety issues to the public in both this forum and “The Shadow’s Corner” is of great service to the people of Kaua‘i.

I would like to thank The Garden Island for sharing my safety issues to the public in “The Shadow’s Corner.”

You can reach me with any concerns you have for public safety around the island by phone at 808-635-3528 or by e-mail at theshadow96751@gmail.com, as well as my website www.theshadow96746.tripod.com. Please try to reduce the resolution of photos that you send in e-mails if you can.

Jerome “The Shadow”Freitas, Kapa‘a

 

Electric cars

The TGI article “Stimulus Funds Used to Buy Foreign Cars” (Oct. 13, 2011) compels me to write about gross factual errors that lead the author and reader to inappropriate conclusions. As an EV owner/enthusiast, I research these cars extensively, and because the technology and application is so new, we can expect some incorrect assumptions and misunderstandings. For example, the math of efficiency is more complex than it initially appears because of the number of variables affecting outcomes.

Further, there are those with a specific agenda who seem willing and eager to falsify information to make their point: automotive brand-loyalty has always created fierce biases, and the idea of electric cars has been enormously politicized to the point where the Chevy Volt has been called (inappropriately) “the Obama Edsel,” and (appropriately) the “Chevy Vote.” I don’t know that the author of this article began with such prejudices, but her facts and conclusions are definitely wrong.

The author asserts that a county’s Leaf will cost an average of 21 cents per mile to operate, comparing it to a gasoline-fueled economy vehicle getting 30 miles per gallon, which would average 15 cents per mile with Kaua‘i gasoline prices. She bases this on charging a “33 kWh battery” at KIUC rates and assumes the car will get 68 miles on this charge. In fact, however, the Leaf has a 24 kWh battery. Further, EV batteries generally do not use the “top” and “bottom” portions of the charge they hold, an intentional design preserving long-term battery life. The Leaf typically uses 16 kWh per charge.

The author’s figures are further skewed: she bases her math on the assumption that the car will get 68 miles on a charge. Broader data dictate otherwise: The EPA rating is 73 miles per charge, while real-world owners experience range of 58-138 miles per charge. In Hawai‘i, and especially on Kaua‘i, we have ideal conditions for electric vehicles due to climate, topography, roads, and other considerations. We can anticipate superb outcomes for range here. While the Chevy Volt’s EPA-expected range is 35 miles per charge, I have averaged 50 miles per charge in more than 7,500 miles on mine. The Leaf is likely to readily achieve 100 miles per charge on Kaua‘i. Given those facts, the Leaf’s fuel cost at KIUC rates would be about $.07 per mile, a third of what this author incorrectly concludes, and half the fuel cost of a 30 mpg alternative.

Another way to document the real fuel cost is via the onboard telemetry in the EV’s themselves. Leaf drivers nationally are going from 4.5 to 6.5 miles on every kWh of electricity. My Volt uses about just over 10 kWh to go 52 miles. Even at our high KIUC rates, that’s cheaper than fueling a Prius.

It should be noted that the article’s calculation of carbon emissions is skewed by the same flawed assumptions on which it determined electric consumption. In addition, the story overlooks or understates the fact that, increasingly, some EV power comes from solar installations, both private and public, reducing fuel cost by a large factor and reducing carbon emissions to zero in those cases.

Regarding the headline theme of the article, the author asserts, “… the question remains as to why the county chose to use domestic stimulus dollars to buy Leafs, which are manufactured solely in Oppama, Japan, and exported to the U.S.” She does not provide the important information that Nissan has built a new plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, employing 5,600 people, that will be producing Leafs later this year — Leafs whose sales will be sparked by our early experiences with the Leafs built in Japan.

Finally, the author closes with this flawed conclusion: “The total taxpayer bill per car, including charger: $53,486.” It is tremendously misleading and harmful to the public’s understanding to suggest that the cost of a single EV also includes the cost of initial installation of a(n American-made) public charger. Each charger will soon serve many vehicles, and when it someday needs replacement, that replacement will not include the cost of the initial infrastructure for installation.

There is both great enthusiasm for and vocal resistance to the move toward the (re)electrification of automobiles, but there is little doubt that their time is at hand. New car shoppers who do some detailed homework may find that an all-electric Leaf, Focus, or iMiEV; an electric Volt with a backup gas generator; or the new plug-in Prius hybrid makes good sense for them, depending on their specific driving needs. I’d also like to suggest that a TGI reporter do some detailed homework after the county has gained some more experience with their vehicles and see if the story doesn’t look a little different next time.

Mark Carey, Kilauea

 

Think twice before fumigating

You might think the use of vikane gas (sufluryl fluoride) to fumigate houses for drywood termites is innocuous, but think again. Its use represents big money to the pesticide industry here in Hawai‘i, where the law requires fumigation any time a home changes ownership.

Caroline Cox, in the Journal of Pesticide Reform, states that sulfuryl fluoride is an extremely hazardous gas for which there is no known antidote. An alarming fact is that it is not tested for its ability to cause cancer as part of the registration process. All tests for effects on nontarget animals and plants, as well as all environmental fate tests were waived during the registration process. It is, however, clearly toxic for nontarget animals and plants. It was declared a toxic air contaminant by the Department of Pesticide Regulation in 2007 and delcared a greenhouse gas by U.C. Berkley in a recent study. The EPA concerns about its neurotoxicity were documented in a 1986 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. They found that fumigatiors who use sulfuryl fluoride reported a greater number of symptons and reduced performance on cognitive tests compared to workers from the fumigation industry who did not work directly with sulfuryl fluoride or other fumigants.

 Richard Fayerlund, an entomologist at the University of New Mexico and a fumigator for 40 years, in an email to me recently stated “sulfuryl fluoride (vikane gas) is dangerous and I would never recommend it. Besides the chance of gas bubbles in the house, there will be an invisible residue of fluoride on everything.” My research has shown synthetic fluoride be a carcinogen.

People have gotten sick and people have died from exposure. In 1986 an elderly Virginia man and his wife succumbed from fumigation. Autopsies showed high levels of fluoride in their blood. In 2005 in San Diego, 10 people got sick and one died in a house adjacent to a fumigated house. Both my girlfriend and I became ill in april 2006 after fumigation of our condo, despite not returning for 10 days after.  

 The doctor was fearful for my girlfriend’s life. Information on the number of human deaths as a result of fumigation with sulfurly fluoride is not accessible to the public. Nor is any information available to the public on the number of people who became sick, but did not die from exposure to the gas. You have to ask yourself why this information is not available.

Pesticides have been implicated in a new disease, multiple chemical sensitivity (mcs) of which 4 percent or 11 million people have become victims. People with mcs have symptons from chemcial exposures at concentrations far below the levels tolerated by most people. The brain is the most common target organ involved. Symptons of mcs range from sore throats to seisure disorders and include flu like symtons, headaches, asthma or other respiratory problems, ear, nose and throat problems, skin rashes, etc.

In finishing, Fagerlund recommend the use of orange oil as an allternative because it is nontoxic to humans and has a lower re-infestation rate than fumigation. The pesticides we use are far more dangerous than the pests we are trying to control. Sulfuryl fluoride is the past in drywood termite control and orange oil is the future.

Gary Benoit, Princeville

 

Dreams

When will this “impossible dream” of a 23.6 mile multi-use path ever end? I have past articles from The Garden Island giving the length as 16 to 23 miles, and I am not sure that the builders of this path even know what the final product will be.

 We are again needing to acquire private land for this path at a cost of $18,551 of taxpayers’ money. Remember that about a year ago, councilman Rapozo’s research uncovered just one glaring example of how those pushing this path were underestimating costs. The original projected cost by path proponents was about $100,000, or “minimal,” whereas a contractor’s actual estimate was $339,762 — anything but minimal.

 We have spent $30.2 million on 6.8 miles of finished path — $4.44 million per mile that has taken 10 years to complete. Again, those pushing this project said that the 23.6 miles, when completed, would cost around $50 million, whereas real math and actual numbers show the cost will be $105 million, or possibly more as property is bought and condemned, plus inflation. These numbers are verified by the State Department of Transportation, so are not skewed.

 I ask those proponents of this path once again what this obscene amount of money being spent on a low priority project is going to do for the mass of the people on Kaua‘i. Saying that it will get people in shape is a red herring, just as all the exercise equipment sitting in a room gathering dust is getting anyone in shape — people only need will power to get in shape, not a multimillion-dollar path.

 

Glenn Mickens, Kapa‘a

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