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County initiates independent geothermal health study

Puna Geothermal Venture. Hawaii 24/7 File Photo

Puna Geothermal Venture. Hawaii 24/7 File Photo


Health issues related to the production of geothermal energy are a concern for many island residents. Funds to conduct health studies are available through the Geothermal Asset Fund, which is overseen by the Windward Planning Commission.

To help inform good decision making on the use of that fund, the county Department of Research and Development has contracted for an independent joint fact finding study to help lay the groundwork for future geothermal health studies to be conducted in the Puna community.

The purpose of this effort is to collect the existing body of knowledge about documented health studies associated with geothermal operations, both here and around the world.

The Joint Fact Finding effort will collect a range of existing information on air quality around the PGV plant and create a summary of kinds of health issues that community members believe may be linked to geothermal operations.

Based on a broad and inclusive body of existing information, the study will develop an outline of priority health issues and preferred methodologies that would guide new health research in the Puna region.

This joint fact finding initiative will be conducted by a professional, third party neutral who will select and convene an independent Working Group to review existing data and come up with a final report.

The report will be presented to the Windward Planning Commission to help inform its deliberations on the future use of Geothermal Asset Fund monies for public health related studies.

The Working Group will be made up of 10-15 scientists, public health specialist and knowledgeable community members to be chosen by the consultant to represent all major points of view on the issue.

The Working Group will be convened by Dr. Peter Adler of Accord 3.0. Dr. Adler is a nationally known and Hawaii based expert in the field of complex issue management and collaborative problem solving.

He will be responsible for designing and implementing an independent fact finding process and for preparing an independent report due in February of 2013.

“This joint fact finding process is an important first step towards addressing community health concerns in a responsible and independent fashion” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We need to apply the best science available. That starts with the collection of existing knowledge on the topic and a reasoned and sustained conversation about what methods can best inform us all about any public health conditions associated with geothermal energy in our community.”

Adler will begin immediately with a series of one-on-one interviews with a range of community, medical and regulatory individuals to identify key issues, data sources and people that can bring unique insight and information to the topic.

Based on these interviews, he will convene a formal Working Group made up of the full spectrum of expertise and passions in the issue.

This group will meet for 3-4 months to review existing studies, listen to additional input and help to define a clear path forward.

Dr. Peter Adler Project Description

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