Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Group drops plan to test
pollutant off Kauai

By Diana Leone

An international group has withdrawn its application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct an unpopular carbon dioxide sequestration experiment in the deep ocean off Kauai.

Instead, the consortium, represented by the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research, hopes to do the experiment on a smaller scale in waters off Norway this summer.

Proponents say the experiment could lead to a technique for getting rid of the excess carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere that is accumulating at an alarming rate with increased burning of fossil fuels.

KAHEA, the Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club praised the withdrawal of the experiment from Hawaii waters, but said they remain concerned about use of the technology anywhere in the world.

"This experiment was hatched by the fossil fuel industry to allow them to continue their polluting ways," Jeff Mikulina, Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter director, said in a prepared statement.

This marks the second time the experiment has tried, and failed, to gain permission to be conducted off a Hawaii coast. The first request was two years ago, for off the Kona Coast of the Big Island. The latest was for tests four nautical miles from Kauai's Nawiliwili Harbor.

"Our sponsors felt, after years of delay and a very antagonistic process where there has never been any compromise, that this would not work" to conduct the experiment in Hawaii or anywhere in the United States, said Gerard Nihous, PICHTR climate change program manager.

Public hearings conducted by the EPA on Oahu and Kauai generated opposition to the plan. The experiment proposed to release 20 metric tons of pure liquid carbon dioxide over a two-week period at a depth of 3,000 feet. Researchers would study its effects on the chemistry of the ocean and sea life.

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