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  • Writer's picturemalamahamakua

The Unstable Cliffs of Hāmākua are No Place for a Project Like Hū Honua Bioenergy

Landslide near Mile Marker 15 north of Hakalau Bay in 2015. Photo by Donald Rudny

"Cliffs along the Hāmākua coast are subject to failure and pose a major challenge for development. The Hāmākua cliffs are unstable primarily because they consist of soil and clay.

In addition to the potential harm cliff failures pose humans and property, they also cause long-term harm to the shoreline habitat and nearshore waters:

  1. The sediment load in the water kills marine life.

  2. The sediment destroys habitat by smothering animals and permanently altering the habitat. Recruitment of species won’t occur for a very long time, and may never occur again. An example of this is the loss of opihi grounds along the coast. 

  3. Any pollutants in the soil, such as the cliff-side arsenic lode at the old sugar plantation sites such as Hakalau Point can be a source of leachate. Sugar plantations were very common along the Hāmākua Coast from Haina town to Hilo town and most these abandoned sugar mill sites were never surveyed for chemical contaminants. (see Sugar Islands: The 165-Year Story of Sugar in Hawaii, pp. 82-83) ​"

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