Thursday, January 8, 2009

BREAKING NEWS — Superferry Draft EIS finds significant impacts

BREAKING NEWS — Superferry Draft EIS finds significant impacts

By Coco Zickos
Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009 2:22 PM HST
After many months of waiting, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was made available to the public today, revealing many impacts the Superferry could have on the four main Hawaiian islands if operation were to continue.

The EIS assesses the direct impacts the ferry could have to the islands caused by new construction needed to support a large-capacity ferry vessel, and indirect impacts, such as affects on Hawaiian waters and cultural practices.

The report declares that the cumulative effects of the Superferry would significantly and adversely affect traffic within the vicinity of Nawiliwili, Kahului, Kawaihae and Honolulu Harbors. The large-vessel ferry could potentially impact the number of endangered humpback whales, the dispersal of inter-island invasive species and the traditional cultural practices conducted on the islands, the EIS said.

The comprehensive report declares that cultural activities within the vicinity of West Harbor in Kahului would significantly and adversely be impacted due to "new harbor improvements." New pier construction at Kawaihae Harbor would also result in significant and adverse impacts, including those to nearby Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Park, obstructing views and affecting not only the rock walls of the heiau, but ceremonial activities as well, due to noise and construction.

Indirect impacts noted in the report include activities such as fishing, surfing and diving, including the potential loss of natural resources as stated in the cultural impact analyses.

The only reportedly beneficial impact reviewed in the environmental draft is that the large-capacity ferry vessel would provide to all harbors a "superior" mode of transportation for disaster planning and emergency response. The statement concludes that the vessel would increase the capabilities and response times of first responders and relief efforts.

To view the EIS in its entirety and to leave comment, visit the Department of Transportation's Web site,

For full coverage of the Draft EIS, see Friday's edition of The Garden Island.