Anti-Cane Burning Petition Includes 8,730 Signatures

September 26, 2012, 6:18 AM HST · Updated September 26, 9:18 AM
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Organizers Karen Chun and Kevin Jackson look over the 8,730 signatures on petitions requesting the end of cane burning in front of the State Building, Wailuku, Maui. Photo courtesy Jackie Peterson.

By Wendy Osher

A group that is seeking to end the burning of sugar cane on Maui delivered petitions with more than 8,700 signatures to the state Department of Health on Tuesday.

The state Health Department is the agency that is in charge of issuing the open air burn permit to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company for their sugar cane harvesting operations.

The same group has also planned a sign waving demonstration on Saturday, September 29 to spread the same message.  The event will run from 10 to 11 a.m. at the corner of Mokulele and Dairy Road in Kahului.

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“We’re hopeful that the Department of Health will understand the negative health consequences of smoke exposure and end permits for cane burning on Maui,” said event organizer, Karen Chun.

“After all the DOH unilaterally banned backyard burning this year for health reasons so clearly they have the power to stop cane burning which has to be a far bigger threat to our lungs,” she said.

In reference to cane burning, HC&S states on its website:

“Farming is a challenging business, and we are continuously looking at ways to reduce the impacts of our operations – noise, dust and smoke – which are an inevitable part of the farming operation. We continue to be focused on the long-term future of HC&S, determined to keep our 36,000 acres in active cultivation, and our 800 workers employed.

The company offers updated information on harvesting and burn schedules via a recorded message  available at (808) 877-6963, and also via a web-based map online at: Cane Burning Schedule Map.

Organizers of the sign waving event have also set up a website where they are gathering online complaints at:  stopcaneburning.org.  The intent, they say, is to ensure that the 2013 Burn Permit has all the data included.

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