Maui News

Hawaiʻi Lawmakers Seek Updated Preparedness Amid Tensions with North Korea

April 13, 2017, 8:21 AM HST
* Updated April 13, 8:32 AM
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The House Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing today on a Senate Concurrent Resolution that urges the State Department of Defense to modernize Hawaiʻi’s disaster preparedness plans amidst geopolitical tensions between North Korea and the United States.

The resolution explains that “Hawaiʻi’s prime location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and its abundance of military commands, including the United States Pacific Command, which is responsible for military operations in an area covering more than half of the earth’s surface,” makes the state a strategic target.

The document cites a recent article published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that saying:

“Nuclear arms experts recently said that North Korea already has, or may soon have, the ability to target Hawaiʻi with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile with possibly the same destructive force as the 15-kiloton and 20-kiloton bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively.”

(The full text of the article was posted in its entirety on the state’s Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency website as a news item this week.)

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The resolution states that President Donald Trump has warned that the US may take unilateral action against North Korea unless China does more to help the United States rein in North Korea’s nuclear program.

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Under the current tensions, lawmakers say it is in the best interest of Hawaiʻi to prepare for a nuclear disaster by identifying locations of usable fallout shelters, upgrading outdated fallout shelters, and restocking provisions.

The Legislature finds that in 1981, Oʻahu had hundreds of fallout shelters with “many stocked with medical kits, food, and sanitary kits; but eventually funding stopped, stocks were discarded, and existing fallout shelter markings became outdated and no longer applicable.”

Backers of the resolution also want the state to identify an emergency backup harbor in case Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Kalaeloa Barbers Point Harbor, or any other major harbor capable of handling shipped cargo is severely damaged and becomes unusable.

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The resolution also requests that the state include in its proposed Aloha Stadium redevelopment plans, a reinforced stadium parking lot that may serve as an emergency backup harbor yard.

Senate Concurrent Resolution 169 SD1 HD1 is proposed by PBS Vice Chair Rep. Matt LoPresti (Ewa, ʻEwa Beach, ʻEwa Gentry, ʻEwa Villages, Hoakalei, Ocean Pointe).

Supporters want recommendations to be reported back to the legislature prior to the 2018 regular session.

Copies of the Concurrent Resolution were to be transmitted to the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, Acting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator, Governor, Adjutant General, Director of Transportation, the mayors of each of the counties, President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and Chairperson of the Stadium Authority.

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