Concerning the Navy Red Hill Bilk Fuel Storage Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, a troubling scenario has emerged.
According to a subsequent Navy study, the November gasoline leak was likely caused by a previous spill in May. During the incident in May, 20,000 gallons of jet fuel were trapped in the storage facility’s fire suppression system.
The Naval inquiry revealed that the problem was likely predetermined by a building fault in 2015. Instead of using steel pipe in the suppression system, PVC pipe was used, which is not as durable and would deteriorate over time when exposed to gasoline.
The leak was known, but on November 29, the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam installation commander Navy Captain Erik Spitzer assured everyone that the water was safe to drink, stating:
“I can tell you at this point that there are no immediate indications that the water is not safe.”
The next day, Captain Spitzer reaffirmed that the water was safe, despite the Hawaiian Department of Health’s warning that “All Navy water system users avoid using the water for drinking, cooking, or oral hygiene.”
The Navy issued a press statement on December 2 in response to the Department of Health’s report that petroleum levels in the water were “roughly four to ten times below the Hawaii Department of Health Environmental Action Levels.”
The purpose of this notification was to ensure the military community that the water was safe.
However, on December 6, Captain Spitzer informed the inhabitants of the military housing that the Navy “mistakenly felt the initial tests meant we may drink the water.”
Therefore, 17 days transpired between the time of the leak and the Navy’s official notification that the water was unsafe.
We now know that the gasoline leak lasted an unbelievable 34 hours and devastated the military families at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The gasoline leak is the second-worst example of water pollution in the history of the military and necessitated the relocation of 4,000 military families to motels.
Every day, the Navy’s Red Hill fuel tanks continue to threaten Oahu’s main water source.
In 2021, a major leak from the Red Hill Fuel Facility poisoned thousands of people on Navy water lines.
Another major leak could make our water permanently undrinkable. pic.twitter.com/9wIRhc4Uoj
— Oʻahu Water Protectors (@oahuWP) June 15, 2022
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
Besides the inconvenience and expense to the Navy to relocate all those families into hotels, the most alarming impact is the over 6,000 individuals suffering illness from drinking water contaminated with jet fuel.
Military members and their families started to experience various illnesses, including the following: burning and itching skin, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches, diarrhea, and extreme abdominal pain
These illnesses were also experienced by many of the children of the military families stationed at the Joint Base. Many military families rely on the on-base child development centers, known as daycare centers, to watch after their children while working. CONTINUE READING…