Fuel Alarms in Tap Water Pearl Harbor Military Families
Cheri Burness’ dog was the first to report something was wrong with the tap water. He quit drinking it two weeks ago. Then Burness started to experience stomach cramps. Her 12 year old daughter was nauseous.
“It was getting worse and worse every day,” said Burness, whose husband is in the Navy.
Their family are among hundreds of military families living near Pearl Harbor with similar complaints after the Navy’s water system was contaminated with oil. The problems have plagued one of the most important naval bases in the world, housing submarines, ships and the commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific region. Problems can even threaten one of Honolulu’s most important aquifers and water sources.
The Navy said Thursday that tests had identified oil in its Red Hill well which is drawing from an aquifer near the base. Rear Admiral Blake Converse, deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet, told a public meeting that the Navy took this well offline on Sunday because it was closest to the affected residential areas.
Converse said the Navy will flush clean water through its distribution system to remove residual petroleum products from the water. This process, followed by testing to make sure the water meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking standards, could take four to ten days, he said.
The Navy will investigate how the contaminants entered the well and repair the well, he said.
The crisis comes after the Navy said on November 22 that a mixture of water and fuel had seeped into a drain line from a fire extinguisher system in a tunnel at a massive facility. fuel storage 3 miles inland from Pearl Harbor. The Navy said it removed about 14,000 gallons (53 kiloliters) of the mixture and said the liquid had not leaked into the environment.
The Navy has so far said it has received calls about a smell of fuel or physical illness from 680 homes in Navy housing and 270 in Army housing on the water system. of the Navy. The Navy’s water supply system serves 93,000 people.
In the days after Thanksgiving, Burness’ daughter felt so sick that she didn’t want to eat leftovers, including potatoes, turnips and carrots that had been boiled in pot. water.
“I don’t want you to have to throw away food because I know it’s expensive, but I can’t eat this mum,” “Burness told her daughter.
Burness began to see comments on social media from military families on Sunday that the tap water smelled like fuel. She didn’t smell it, but people told her to turn on the hot water and check it out. She did and felt it too.
She told her family not to drink the water and not to wash their hair and face with it. She ordered a private water delivery for $ 120 per month. Their family mainly ate from plastic and paper plates and ate in restaurants.
When she gave her dog bottled water on Monday, he immediately drank a full liter of it, then another two liters over the next 12 hours.
The Navy has since started distributing bottled water. The Navy said the Marines would set up showers and laundromats connected to potable water.
The military said it would help affected families move to a hotel or new home. The Navy is working on a similar program. The Navy is also setting up dedicated medical clinics.
Burness said her stomach cramps were about 85 percent better, but not completely. Her daughter’s nausea improved. But now they’re both complaining of breathing problems.
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 that 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 that there is a problem, we don’t know what it is and we are going to do whatever it takes to find out and fix it. That’s all they had to do. And instead, we got: No. It looks good. It 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 address issues we are all facing, “the command said in a statement.
The tunnel leak of November 22 was only the latest regarding the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility, a complex of 20 underground fuel tanks built during World War II. Environmentalists and the Honolulu Municipal Water Department have expressed concerns about these aging tanks since the Navy revealed one of them disclosed a 27,000 gallon (102 kiloliters) leak in 2014 .
The reservoirs sit 30 meters above an aquifer that supplies about a quarter of the water consumed in Honolulu, raising fears that leaks could contaminate one of the city’s most crucial water sources. . This is the same aquifer captured by the Red Hill well where the Navy just detected oil.
Last month, the Sierra Club of Hawaii and other environmental groups called on the government to shut down the reservoirs.
Burness said his experience had shaken his confidence in the military. During her decades as a military wife, she always believed in doing whatever it takes to support “the mission.” “It destroyed all of that,” she said. “I don’t have any confidence at this point, and I think it has shown that they cannot be trusted in anything.”
(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)