East Hawaii News

Lava Viewing in Pahoa Ready for the Public

December 16, 2014, 1:06 PM HST
* Updated December 16, 1:12 PM
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The public will get their first look at the lava flow that impacted the Pahoa Transfer Station, beginning Wednesday, Dec. 17.

Hawai’i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira made the announcement during a Tuesday morning media conference call, a little over a week after public school students impacted by the lava began making their tour of the area.

Oliveira said that the transfer station will be open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Parking will be available along Apa’a Street, diagonally along the right side of the road to maximize accessibility. Buses for tours will be allowed up to the area for drop off of passengers, but will then be staged at the parking area near the bottom of Apa’a Street to allow for traffic flow and individual car access.

With the impeding lava flow possibly impacting the Pahoa Marketplace and extending down towards Highway 130, the transfer station viewing site is potentially temporary, with certain closures on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

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Certain surrounding areas of the transfer station area will be closed off to the public, as the lava crossed portions of private and state properties. Oliveira says that the limitation of the access areas are necessary to ensure public safety.

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“Visitors will be kept on the transfer station property, the property that is under the county’s ownership or authority. The flow actually crossed the road onto private property, so we are respecting those boundaries and are not allowing anyone out onto private properties, as well as state properties in the area,” Oliveira said. “So the access for the public will be within the transfer station grounds, as well as out on Apa’a Street up to the flow. Because the surface of the flow presents with many trip hazards, a lot of cracks, and a lot of unstable ground on the flow itself, the access will be limited to what is the safe walking areas which the pavement and road shoulders, not actually on the lava itself.”

The impact of the current front of the active June 27 lava flow, which was about 1 mile from the Highway 130 and the Pahoa Village Road intersection as of Tuesday morning, could result in the closure of the site at the transfer station and potentially open a viewing point of the active flow, according to Oliveira.

“We are aware that if and when the flow approaches highway 130, there would likely be the increased desire to see an active flow rather than a historical flow. The resources would be directed to providing for public access to an active flow down near the highway,” Oliveira said. “We will see how it goes and adjust accordingly, but for now we are looking forward to having an open public access and safe venue for the public to come and see what has happened up at the transfer station.”

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