Fuel in Tap Water Alarms Military Families of Pearl Harbor; contaminated well closed

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Amid an ongoing fuel crisis contaminating Navy tap water in Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu water company said on Friday it had shut down one of its wells so as not to impair its own supply. in oil from an underground aquifer that it shares with the military. The Board of Water Supply said it acted shortly after the Navy revealed Thursday that a water sample from one of its wells showed the presence of oil. The well sits near a giant WWII underground fuel tank complex that has been the source of several fuel leaks over the years. Tap water problems plagued one of the most important military bases, housing submarines, ships and the commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific region. They also threaten to endanger one of Honolulu’s most important aquifers and water sources. Almost 1,000 military households have complained about the smell of tap water or about physical ailments such as stomach cramps and vomiting. The Navy’s water supply system serves 93,000 people. The Navy said Thursday it would discharge clean water through its distribution system to remove residual petroleum products from the water. The process, followed by testing to make sure the water meets the Environmental Protection Agency‘s drinking standards, could take four to 10 days. help affected families move into hotels or new homes. Ernie Lau, chief engineer of the Board of Water Supply, said he was concerned that the utility could suck contaminated water through the porous lava rock that forms the aquifer and deliver it to its customers. Since the Navy has closed its well, there is a possibility that water will flow to the utility’s Halawa well from the Navy’s well area more quickly if the utility continues to pump. The utility’s Halawa well produces 10 million gallons per day under normal conditions, providing 20% ​​of the water serving the city of Honolulu. In the meantime, the utility will tap into other wells and only operate its Halawa well to test for water contamination, Lau said. To protect Oahu’s water, Lau urged the navy to eliminate the risk posed by the Red Hill fuel storage facility. It consists of 20 aging tanks, each as tall as a 25-story building, which were built in the early 1940s. “We can’t wait any longer,” Lau said as he choked on the ride. a press conference. “The water resource is precious. It is irreplaceable. There is no substitute for pure water, and our lives depend on it.” He noted that Honolulu depends on groundwater for all of its water needs. At Cheri Burness, her dog was the first to report something was wrong when he quit drinking the family’s tap water two weeks ago. Burness began to experience stomach cramps and her 12-year-old daughter became nauseous soon after. set up showers and laundry facilities connected to drinking water. It also sets up dedicated medical clinics. Hawaiian environmental and indigenous groups, meanwhile, are calling for a meeting with Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. He is due to travel to Hawaii next week to attend a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Burness was frustrated with the response from the Navy, which she said ignored the families’ concerns. She pointed to an email Monday from the commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam which told residents that the Navy was testing water samples but there was no immediate indication that the water was failing. was not sure. His email said he and his staff were drinking water. “All they had to do was say, ‘We see there’s a problem, we don’t know what it is, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to find it out and fix it- the.’ That’s all they had to do. And instead, we got, “No. It looks good. It smells good. Goodbye,” Burness said. the number of concerns was still very low. “Since then, the Navy has aggressively increased sampling, testing, communication with families and others affected, as well as the establishment of expert response teams to address issues that we are all facing, ”the command said. in a press release. The most recent leak from the Red Hill fuel storage facility occurred last month. The Navy said on November 22 that a mixture of water and fuel had entered a drain line from the fire extinguisher system in a tunnel. The Navy said it removed about 14,000 gallons of the mixture, and said the liquid had not spilled into the environment. .US Sen. Mazie Hirono of Haw aii said tank decommissioning was a possibility, saying on a conference call with reporters that “all options are on the table.” people smell fuel in their water, it’s totally abnormal, totally unacceptable, ”said Hirono, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on maritime power. Hirono said she asked the Navy to give her a confidential briefing on their fuel needs.

Amid an ongoing fuel crisis contaminating Navy tap water in Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu water company said on Friday it had shut down one of its wells so as not to impair its own supply. in oil from an underground aquifer that it shares with the military.

The Honolulu Water Supply Board said it acted soon after the Navy revealed on Thursday that a water sample from one of its wells showed the presence of oil. The well sits near a giant WWII underground fuel tank complex that has been the source of multiple fuel leaks over the years.

Tap water problems plagued one of the most important military bases, housing submarines, ships and the commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific region. They also threaten to endanger one of Honolulu’s most important aquifers and water sources.

Almost 1,000 military households have complained about the smell of tap water or physical ailments such as stomach cramps and vomiting. The Navy’s water supply system serves 93,000 people.

The Navy said Thursday it would discharge clean water through its distribution system to remove residual petroleum products from the water. The process, followed by testing to make sure the water meets the Environmental Protection Agency‘s drinking standards, could take four to 10 days.

The Navy said it will investigate how contaminants entered the well and will fix it.

Meanwhile, military officials say they will help affected families move into hotels or new homes.

Ernie Lau, chief engineer of the Board of Water Supply, said he was concerned that the utility could pull contaminated water through the porous lava rock that forms the aquifer and deliver it to its customers. Since the Navy has closed its well, there is a possibility that water will flow to the utility’s Halawa well from the Navy well area more quickly if the service continues to pump.

The utility’s Halawa well produces 10 million gallons per day under normal conditions, providing 20% ​​of the water serving the city of Honolulu. In the meantime, the utility will tap into other wells and only operate its Halawa well to test for water contamination, Lau said.

To protect Oahu’s water, Lau urged the Navy to eliminate the risk posed by the Red Hill fuel storage facility. It consists of 20 aging tanks, each as tall as a 25-story building, which were constructed in the early 1940s.

“We can’t wait any longer,” Lau said as he choked on a press conference. “The water resource is precious. It is irreplaceable. Nothing replaces pure water and our lives depend on it.

He noted that Honolulu depends on groundwater for all of its water needs.

At Cheri Burness, her dog was the first to report something was wrong when he quit drinking the family’s tap water two weeks ago. Burness began to experience stomach cramps and her 12-year-old daughter became nauseous soon after.

“It was getting worse and worse every day,” said Burness, whose husband is in the Navy.

The Navy has since started distributing bottled water and said the Marines will set up showers and laundries connected to potable water. It also sets up dedicated medical clinics.

Hawaiian environmental and indigenous groups, meanwhile, are calling for a meeting with Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. He is due to travel to Hawaii next week to attend a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Burness was frustrated with the response from the Navy, which she said dismissed the families’ concerns. She pointed to an email Monday from the commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam which told residents that the Navy was testing water samples but there was no immediate indication that the water was failing. was not sure. His email indicated that he and his staff were drinking water.

“All they had to do was say, ‘We see there’s a problem, we don’t know what it is, and we’re going to do whatever it takes to find out. and solve it. ‘ That’s all they had to do. And instead we got, ‘No. Looks good. Smells good. Goodbye,’ “Burness said.

The Hawaii Navy Region, which oversees all Navy facilities in the state, said the commander’s email was sent when “the number of concerns was still very low.”

“Since then, the Navy has aggressively increased sampling, testing, communication with families and others affected, as well as the establishment of expert response teams to resolve issues we are all facing, “the command said in a statement.

The most recent leak from the Red Hill fuel storage facility occurred last month. The Navy said on November 22 that a mixture of water and fuel had entered a drain line from the fire extinguisher system in a tunnel. The Navy said it removed about 14,000 gallons of the mixture and said the liquid had not leaked into the environment.

The fuel tanks are located 100 feet above the aquifer. Last month, the Sierra Club of Hawaii and other environmental groups called on the government to shut down the reservoirs.

US Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii has indicated that tank decommissioning is a possibility, saying on a conference call with reporters that “all options are on the table.” But she said she wanted to focus first on ensuring people have clean drinking water for consumption and other daily needs.

“When people smell fuel in their water, it’s totally abnormal, totally unacceptable,” said Hirono, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on maritime power.

Hirono said she asked the Navy to give her a confidential briefing on their fuel needs.


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