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Maui residents to hold cane burning forum

By Staff | Jun 25, 2015

Smoke from cane burning was thick in North Kihei at 8 a.m. on May 27, 2015. PHOTO BY DR. JOE RITTER.

KIHEI – Maui residents will hold a free event where Hawaiian leaders, doctors and scientists will discuss cane burning from a historical/cultural perspective, as well as its impact on public health, the environment and Maui’s economy.

Open to the public, this free event will take place at Kihei Community Center, 303 E. Lipoa St., on Thursday, June 25, at 6:30 p.m.

“The corporate right to pollute and burn ends where your right to breathe begins. This is literally sickening,” said Maui scientist Dr. Joe Ritter.

“People have the right to breathe clean air,” said former Hawaii Senate candidate Terez Amato. She said her son experienced a life-threatening asthma attack triggered by the May 27 sugarcane burn that blanketed Kihei. Videos show coughing Kamali’i Elementary School children running for shelter with their faces covered.

Amato said. “Breathing is not optional. The people of Maui deserve to have their health concerns addressed.”

Attendees will learn about cane smoke effects and how to log bad burns where ground level smoke is affecting people. They’ll be guided step-by-step through the process of filing E-reports sent directly to the state Department of Health, County of Maui and to HC&S using the “Clean Air Maui” smartphone app. The Environmental Protection Agency also receives a monthly summary of reports.

“The Department of Health ordered an end to cane burning in 1971, citing respiratory disease caused by cane smoke,” said Deborah Mader, co-creator of this event.

“Harmful effects have been known for decades, yet the current DOH allows HC&S to continually perform permit violating burns. We are fighting to protect the community from toxic smoke.”

The group has invited the state Department of Health, EPA and all local elected officials to attend. Those interested in learning more can visit www.StopCaneBurning.org or e-mail info@StopCaneBurning.org.