/World News ‘Crisis of astronomical proportions’ in Pearl Harbor over water contamination
World News ‘Crisis of astronomical proportions’ in Pearl Harbor over water contamination

World News ‘Crisis of astronomical proportions’ in Pearl Harbor over water contamination

World News The US Navy has confirmed that the water used by military families near Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor is contaminated with “volatile petroleum products,” forcing a shutdown that may leave taps dry for over a week.

Tests on the system that supplies drinking water to homes at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam showed “pretty conclusive indications that there are volatile petroleum products in the well,” Rear Admiral Blake Converse told reporters on Thursday, referring to the Red Hill well servicing hundreds of military families. The well has been shut down since Sunday, and it will remain closed as the Navy purges the dangerous chemicals from the system.On Friday, Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply also shut down the Halawa shaft, responsible for some 20% of the water supply to Urban Honolulu, pointing out that both wells draw water from the same aquifer.

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Converse assured that the contamination was isolated and confined to the Red Hill well, claiming that tests “throughout the rest of the Navy water distribution system” failed to find any traces of petroleum. The system’s some 93,000 customers have been urged to avoid drinking the water as a precaution.However, there are mounting concerns that the tainted water could have already leaked to other city wells. On Tuesday, a University of Hawaii lab said it discovered a petroleum product in a sample collected from Red Hill Elementary School.Military families reportedly began complaining of a gasoline or chemical smell in their drinking water after a November 20 fuel leak. More than 14,000 gallons of a water-fuel mixture leaked from an underground storage facility, but the Navy said at the time that the spill was confined to a tunnel and didn’t affect water supplies, including an aquifer below the storage tanks that supplies Oahu.The latest Navy statement followed comments at a congressional hearing earlier on Thursday by US Representative Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii). “The Navy is currently experiencing a crisis of astronomical proportions in Hawaii,” Kahele said. He said that nearly 100,000 people were without water service because of the system shutdown, and many people and animals were made sick by the contamination.

Right now, thousands of military personnel and their families are without water at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam. In today’s hearing with the @USNavy, I demanded answers on the future of #RedHill.People are suffering, and Hawaiʻi deserves answers and transparency immediately. pic.twitter.com/IpfXzJY06p

— Congressman Kaiali‘i Kahele (@RepKahele) December 2, 2021

Kahele also brought a water sample to the hearing. “I can tell you myself that if you smell this water, you would know that there is something wrong with this water,” he said. “There’s a petroleum product in this water.”More than 900 Navy and Army families reported strange odors in their water or physical ailments between the time of the fuel leak and Thursday’s announcement of testing results, the Associated Press reported.With the water system now offline for an estimated four to 10 days, the military has offered to help some families temporarily move into hotels or new homes. The Navy also is distributing bottled water, while the Marines will provide showering and laundering facilities. Dedicated medical clinics also are being set up.

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