Grant to fund study of joint airport plant inspection facility
The state Department of Agriculture has received a $100,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to begin studying the feasibility of joint inspections of plants coming into Hawaii, said Lyle Wong, administrator of the plant industry division.
When the Department of Homeland Security was created, the inspection of plants and animals coming from other countries was split between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The state inspects plants coming from the mainland for potential alien species and diseases.
The state wants to build a new joint facility at the Honolulu airport that would allow state and federal inspectors to work side by side. The master plan for Honolulu airport is being revised, and both the state and the USDA are looking at renovating their facilities at the airport.
Wong said a decision needs to be made in the next few years about whether it will be feasible to build a joint facility. The $100,000 grant will start the planning process, he said.
The state had originally asked for $2 million, and Wong said he will be applying for additional funds next year. The state received the money this summer.
The grant will also pay to send state inspectors for the same training as federal plant quarantine inspectors, and for some consulting work on merging the separate, federal and state government computer data bases, Wong said.
A joint inspection facility is being built at Maui airport that can also be used by federal inspectors if needed, Wong said.