Billowing black smoke bothersome
I've been living at Kukui Plaza for many years. There's always been a soot problem because we're surrounded by busy streets. But lately I've been home a lot in the mornings and noticing a lot of billowing black smoke coming out of a smokestack that looks like it's located at Borthwick Mortuary. I'm concerned because I've been having some respiratory problems. What is that and what can we do about it?
Answer: If you feel the emissions are excessive, call the state Department of Health's Clean Air Branch at 586-4200.
An inspector has not verified that Borthwick Mortuary is the source of your complaint, but a representative of the Clean Air Branch said, "We don't know of any other stack emissions (coming from) that area."
A complaint about burning at the mortuary was received last November. At that time, it was determined that no violation had occurred, the official said.
The emissions had subsided by the time an inspector arrived at the mortuary, but witnesses in the area said the smoke did not last more than three minutes, he said. That's an important factor.
Borthwick has a permit from the Clean Air Branch to operate its incinerator for cremations.
"The permit allows them to have a certain percentage of opacity during the start up of incineration," the official explained. "They are allowed to emit up to 20 percent of black smoke, or smoke, for not more than six minutes" for each cremation.
Opacity is the measure of the emission that comes out of the smokestack. "It's a visible emission," he said.
Asked how someone would determine 20 percent opacity, he said, "We have to read it visually with our eyes."
Inspectors are required to go to training classes every six months and to pass an exam "where we read a certain amount of smoke coming out of a stack," he said. "What we're actually doing is calibrating our eyes."
There is no limit as to how many times a day Borthwick may do a cremation, nor is it confined to doing so at certain times.
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» Aloha Computers for Education in Samoa is seeking donations of working desktop PCs (Pentium 3 or better) or laptops of any kind to ship to rural schools in Samoa (Kokua Line, March 22, 2006).
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Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered. E-mail to email@example.com
. See also: Useful phone numbers