Time for council to put health above politics

The proposed repeal of Ordinance 960 formerly known as Bill 2491 is another indicator of the power and influence the Westside chemical companies hold in our community. Because the courts have already invalidated the measure, repealing it serves no useful purpose. This is simply a political power play.

The state/county sponsored Joint Fact Finding (JFF) report did an exhaustive review of existing health and pesticide data, which this council has chosen to ignore.

The data gathered during the JFF process indicate that Westside residents suffer from numerous health conditions at higher rates than residents living anywhere else on Kauai.

These health conditions/indicators include: Developmental delay (3 to 8 year olds), ADHD, Easter Seals enrollment (age 0 to 3), infant mortality, mothers pre-existing health conditions, cancer mortality, stroke mortality, admissions for bacterial pneumonia, COPD or asthma (elderly), dialysis patients (per 1,000) and other disabilities.

These are all conditions or health indicators in which the incidence of occurrence by people living on the Westside exceed all other Kauai communities.

To be clear, we are dealing with small numbers, statistical significance is thus impossible to determine with any certainty and the cause of these elevated rates has not been determined.

This is why it is so important that the council support the recommendations put forward by the JFF. These recommendations are very similar to what is contained in Ordinance 960 which Council Chair Rapozo and Vice Chair Kagawa are proposing to repeal.

Repealing this ordinance does not provide closure or help at all.

Closure will only occur when the chemical companies fully disclose their pesticide usage, agree to reasonable buffer zones around schools, hospitals, homes and other sensitive areas, and the comprehensive testing of soil, air and water as has been recommended by the state/county JFF report is conducted.

Please offer your testimony (thoughts, ideas, suggestions, feelings) on proposed Draft Bill 2643 in person or via email at counciltestimony@kauai.gov today, Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Please ask the council to set aside the repeal and instead, step up to the plate and lend their voice in strong support of the JFF report.

The voice of the community must be stronger than the voices of Syngenta, Dow Chemical, DuPont and BASF. These companies have continued to resist any attempts at increased regulation.

Ordinance 960 simply required disclosure, modest buffer zones and a study of the industry impacts on the health of our citizens. Rather than comply,a the companies took us to court.

Eighteen months ago the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in RoundUp, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Today, these companies continue to refuse to disclose the amount of glyphosate used on Kauai. A simple disclosure request of a chemical the companies insist is safe, and yet they refuse to comply.

Syngenta — which is applying pesticides on Kauai’s Westside that are banned in their home country of Switzerland — is presently under federal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to protect its field workers who were hospitalized for exposure to chlorpyrifos a known neurotoxin — widely used on Kauai.

The science is clear. The pesticides and chemicals used by these companies are dangerous; harm at varying degrees is occurring to health and the environment.

The actual degree of harm as a result of both short-term and long-term exposure has yet to be determined and these companies will do anything in their power to prevent full disclosure and the appropriate testing and studies.

The Joint Fact Finding Group which was sponsored by both the state and the county after extended discussions and review of existing research, issued comprehensive recommendations intended to help move us move forward.

The next step is up to us. Ask the council today to show they care more about the health of the people on the Westside than they do the profits of the four-largest chemical companies in the world.

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Gary Hooser is a former member of the Kauai County Council.

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