Time to end the pollution caused by burning cane

Every letter complaining about the health effects of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.’s cane burning is sure to trigger letters saying: “My 88-year-old grandmother lived next to a field they burned every year, and she was never bothered.”

Think about this: Maybe her contemporaries who were bothered are all dead now. Maybe they died prematurely of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and therefore are no longer around to testify.

I personally am not bothered by cane burning except the rare occasions when the wind shifts and Wailuku gets “Maui snow” – black ashes – all over the lawn and the driveway.

A recent conversation with a defender of Alexander & Baldwin and HC&S had him declaring that the benefits of burning were “worth the bother to five or six people who have problems.” In my limited circle of contacts, I know more than that many people who are severely bothered by the cane smoke. By extension, there must be many more, especially in Kihei. Especially kids with asthma and old people.

When I arrived on Maui 31 years ago, I was met by an enormous plume of smoke, like a mushroom cloud, that astonished me. “How can they do that?” I didn’t know then that the Environmental Protection Agency allowed all the rules about smoke to be waived for HC&S.

Surely, after 31 years, it is time to listen to the protests and end this pollution.

Sally Raisbeck