Hawaii Governor: Air Quality Is Safe as Volcanic Activity Continues

Kilauea volcano Hawaii
Photo by M. Patrick/U.S. Geological Survey via AP/Newscred

Hawaii Governor David Ige issued a statement Friday morning reiterating to the traveling public that the air quality of the vast majority of Hawaii is clean and healthy. 

The latest statement was in response to concerns about emissions from Kilauea, which has seen volcanic activity since May 3.

"Hawaii's air quality is being closely monitored on a continuing basis by scientists, meteorologists and the Hawaii State Department of Health,” said Ige. “This team of experts says the air quality in the Hawaiian Islands is safe for residents and visitors, except in the affected areas.”

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Ive also commented on the growing concern of laze and the Puna Geothermal Venture plant. Laze, which is short for lava haze, is a byproduct of lava-ocean interaction and forms as hot lava boils seawater to dryness. 

The result is a localized white plume of condensed seawater steam, hydrochloric acid gas, and tiny particles of glass at the coastal entry site, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s (HTA) latest update

"Two other topics that I want to alleviate people's concerns about are laze and the Puna Geothermal Venture plant,” said Ige. “Laze is a natural reaction that occurs whenever lava flows into the ocean as it is doing now and has from time to time over the past 35 years. This is all part of nature's way of creating new land for life to grow. Laze is limited to the area where the lava meets the ocean and is not a danger to people who keep a safe distance away.”

Air quality on the Hawaii Island remains largely unchanged with the exception of where the volcanic activity is happening can have hazardous levels of SO2 (sulfur dioxide), according to the HTA. Officials constantly monitor SO2 levels across the island, according to the HTA.

"The bottom line is that there is no reason for travelers to avoid making their vacation plans in the Hawaiian Islands due to safety concerns because of Kilauea volcano,” said Ige.

Cruise

According to the HTA, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ (NCL) Pride of America will make its call into Kona on Wednesday, May 30, but the ship will skip its call into Hilo on Tuesday, May 29.

“[Hawaii Island] is an incredible destination for our guests and we are proud to have faithfully visited its two ports of Kona and Hilo 52 weeks a year for the last 14 years,” according to a statement release by NCL. “Our top priority is the safety and security of our guests and crew. We have been closely monitoring the phenomenal geological conditions impacting Hawaii and have modified the itinerary of Pride of America to ensure that our guests have the tremendous vacation experience they have come to expect from Norwegian Cruise Line. 

“To date, we have cancelled just three port calls to [Hawaii Island]. We will continue to assess the situation carefully and will make changes to our planned itineraries if conditions warrant necessary. We will commence calls to the Big Island of Hawaii as soon as conditions allow.”

Accommodations and Activities

According to the HTA, all accommodations, activities and attractions on Hawaii Island are operating normally, with the exception of those in the area affected by the volcanic activity.

The HTA recommended that visitors who have already booked a trip to Hawaii Island with accommodations or activities in or near the Puna district, should call their provider with any questions or concerns. Effective since May 12, those who have vacation rental reservations in the Lower Puna restricted area are asked to find alternative accommodations, until further notice, according to the HTA.

Flight News

All airports on the island of Hawaii continue to operate normally, according to the HTA.

Hawaiian Airlines recently announced that effective immediately, guests holding tickets for travel on Hawaiian Airlines flights to/from Hilo, Hawaii (ITO) or Kona, Hawaii (KOA) between May 3 and May 31 will be permitted a one-time reservation change with waiver of change fee provided that the ticket was issued on/before May 4 and the affected flight(s) is/are originally scheduled for travel on May 3 through May 31. Also, changes must be ticketed for new flights no later than June 7 and travel must also commence no later than June 7.

In addition, for changes made to new flights on or before June 7, any resulting difference in fare(s) will be waived provided that change is made to the same compartment (i.e. Coach to Coach or First Class to First Class) and there is no change in origin and destination. For changes made to new flights after June 7, the change fee will be waived but applicable difference in fare will be collected.

United Airlines announced that change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between May 16  and May 25 as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

For wholly rescheduled travel departing after May 25, or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel must be completed within one year from the date when the ticket was issued.

Delta is issuing flight waiver for guest with tickets for flights departing between May 7 and May 25. Tickets must be reissued on or before May 28. Rebooked travel must begin no later than May 28. 

American Airlines recently announced that a change fee may be waived for guests traveling on either an American or Hawaiian Airlines flight. The waiver applies to guests who bought their ticket by May 5 for travel from May 5 to May 28. 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

According to a statement issued by the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as of May 23, the Kahuku Unit of the Park, located about an hour’s drive south of the park’s main entrance, is now open to visitors five days a week, Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. 

Additionally, National Park Rangers are available at the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in Downtown Hilo from Tuesday through Saturday to present educational programs and provide updates.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park emergency managers are urging motorists to slow down and use caution on Highway 11, particularly between mile markers 28 and 29, and Pii Mauna Road, due to cracks in the road and uneven surfaces resulting from an earthquake that occurred on May 16. In addition, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials are reminding motorists that stopping for non-emergency purposes along the side and shoulders of Highway 11 in Park territory to view the plumes is prohibited. 

Related Stories

Hawaii Volcano: NCL to Resume Kona Calls; Moderate Activity Continues

Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Massively Erupts

Pleasant Holidays CEO: Volcanic Activity Has Little Impact on Hawaii Business

The Latest Flight Waivers for Travel to Hawaii Due to Volcanic Activity

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