A big jump in the use of illegal fireworks across Oahu over the holidays has a state senator proposing a solution.

Will Espero, a Democrat representing Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point and portion of Ewa Villages, plans to introduce legislation in the 2016 Legislature that he believes will crack down on the naughty explosives.

The bill calls for establishing an improved container inspection program for Honolulu, a recommendation that comes from a 2011 Report to the Legislature from the Illegal Fireworks Task Force.  

“If a dirty bomb were to be smuggled into Hawaii and exploded in Waikiki or downtown, the local economy would be crippled,” he said in a press release Thursday. “Tourists would cease to come, jobs would be lost and Hawaii could be thrown into a recession.”

Fireworks. July 4, 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
July 4, 2015, in Honolulu. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2015

Espero continued: “One location where fireworks are being smuggled into the state is Honolulu’s harbor and shipping port, and this is an area where resources and attention must be given.”

The inspection container program calls in part for the following:

  • Randomly inspect freight forwarder locations where recipients’ pick-up, open and unload containers.
  • Utilizing explosive sniffing dogs when opening shipping containers as much as possible.
  • Inspecting all containers with legal fireworks. Utilizing personnel who know the difference between commercial fireworks and illegal aerials.
  • Increasing fines and prison sentences for a conviction of importing illegal fireworks or explosives.

Funding for the inspection program would be collected through a fee on every container brought into the state and a one-time appropriation of $250,000 for two “explosive sniffing dogs, to fund the handlers of the dogs, and to begin the shipping container inspection program.”

The state sheriffs division would be responsible for the program. 

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