Business/In Brief • Sept. 5, 2014

USDA to aid Big Isle farmers after storm

HONOLULU- The U.S. Agriculture Department is giving the Big Island a natural disaster designation to help farmers recover from Tropical Storm Iselle.

The USDA’s Farm Service Agency’s declaration will allow qualifying farmers to obtain emergency loans.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard notes Thursday that USDA’s disaster declaration provides some federal assistance in the wake of the Federal Emergency Management Agency last week denying the governor’s request for help.

It’s been almost a month since the storm made landfall over the Big Island, damaging homes and crops.

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Health study mulled on geothermal risks

HILO – A planning commission is considering a study on whether geothermal development in Puna has harmed the health of residents.

The study was one of the main recommendations of a Hawaii County-funded geothermal working group. The study would be funded by the county’s geothermal asset fund.

The report may take up to three years to complete.

Puna Geothermal Venture last month released about 67 pounds of hydrogen sulfide after Tropical Storm Iselle winds downed its transmission lines.

Members of the Puna Pono Alliance say dozens of people have complained of symptoms potentially related to hydrogen sulfide exposure.