Isle power plantsToxic top ten By Mary Adamski
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Spills have put petroleum facilities in the spotlight as polluters, but it is electricity-generating plants that churn the greatest volume of contaminants into Hawaii's natural environment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported yesterday that power generators in the islands produced 87 percent of the total toxic emissions reported during 1998.
A total of 3.6 million pounds of toxic chemicals was released into the air, water or ground. Of that, 3.2 million pounds were from electricity-generating plants. The oil or coal burned in such plants releases metal compounds and sulfur oxides into the air, according to the EPA report.
It was the first time the EPA Toxics Release Inventory reported on emissions from electric utilities.
Hawaiian Electric Vice President Chuck Freedman said, "Energy-producing industries have the largest release partly because there is so little manufacturing in Hawaii to begin with. When the state-by-state figures come out for all industries, we'll still be near the bottom of the list because we have the cleanest air in the country."
Hawaii, which has almost none of the worst-polluting industries such as mining and manufacturing, was at the bottom of the list of states in the 1997 report on toxic emissions. According to the EPA Web site, the comparative figures will be published in June.
AES Hawaii, a privately owned plant that burns coal to generate electricity at Campbell Industrial Park, topped the list of Hawaii polluters with 1.17 million pounds of toxic release.
Six generating facilities of island electric utility companies were on the top 10 list, as were two oil refineries and an aluminum can factory.
Dave Schmidt, of the EPA regional office in San Francisco, said the Toxics Release Inventory was originally compiled from reports from manufacturers, petroleum refineries and federal facilities and military bases.
Emissions in those categories here totaled 419,000 pounds in 1998. In the past 10 years, there was a 64 percent drop in toxic pollution emissions in the original categories in Hawaii.
For 1998, seven other industrial categories were added and, EPA's Schmidt said, "It gives a much fuller and more complete representation of the amount of toxic release. You get a clearer picture."
Petroleum bulk terminals are another new reporting category. In Hawaii, five bulk terminals reported 56,000 pounds released into the air.
There were no Hawaii facilities reporting in the other new categories: commercial hazardous waste treatment, solvent recovery services, metal and coal mining, wholesale chemical distributors. Nationally, electric utilities accounted for 23 percent of the total releases in the newly reporting industrial categories.
Freedman said Hawaiian Electric is "doing a lot to produce the power needed and reduce the rate of growth of emissions. Particularly, in terms of energy efficiency and conservation, we have initiatives, partnering with commercial customers to reduce the need for heating, lighting and air conditioning. Another effort is using solar heat ... 11,000 new residential solar heaters since 1996."
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Twenty-nine Hawaii facilities reported toxics releases. The top 10 polluters:
Top toxic polluters
AES Hawaii at Campbell Industrial Park, 1.17 million pounds.
Kahe generating station in Waianae, 888,000 pounds.
Waiau generating station in Pearl City, 339,000 pounds.
Kahului generating station on Maui, 236,000 pounds.
Hill generating station in Hilo, Hawaii, 201,000 pounds.
Chevron Products refinery at Campbell Industrial Park, 175,000 pounds.
Puna generating station in Keaau, Hawaii, 139,000 pounds.
Ball Metal Beverage Container Corp. at Campbell Industrial Park, 109,000 pounds.
Tesoro Hawaii refinery at Campbell Industrial Park, 89,000 pounds.
Shipman Generating Station in Hilo, Hawaii, 60,000 pounds.