(LK comment: Jacob is right on… In addition to conservation and reuse, Hawaii needs to begin to think about a Desal pilot program just in case. The price of Desal has significantly decreased and we have seen what one Red Hill situation can cause and we have not seen the end of this crisis.) April 2022, Civil Beat Opinion Jacob Wiencek: Late last year a devastating water crisis hit Hawaii as thousands of gallons of fuel from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility leaked into the groundwater.
Thousands of mostly military families were relocated out of housing and the crisis worsened military-community relations given the preceding years of intense debate about the environmental impact of the facility.
However, most disturbingly it revealed a fundamental weakness that impacts not just Honolulu but all of Hawaii: our near single source dependence on underground aquifers presents an enduring threat to the state’s water security.
The Red Hill crisis is not the only water crisis to face Hawaii in the recent past. Maui County had to issue a water conservation noticethat inflamed an age-old debate about balancing water for residents and one of our primary economic pillars, tourism.
More broadly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration holds that the entire state of Hawaii is either in abnormally dry conditions or at least moderate to severe drought.
Whether through a man-made crisis or climate change we are facing increasing pressure on our water resources — and that pressure will only intensify as Hawaii’s population continues to grow (we clocked a 7% growth rate from 2010-2020).
To see the rest of this excellent piece see: https://www.civilbeat.org/2022/04/red-hill-crisis-underscores-water-insecurity-in-hawaii/
The U.S. Navy will comply with Hawaiʻi’s order to remove fuel from a massive underground storage tank facility near Pearl Harbor blamed for contaminating drinking water, officials said Tuesday.
The Navy is making preparations to defuel the facility, Rear Adm. Blake Converse said during a U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearing.
“The Navy caused this problem. We own it and we’re going to fix it,” Converse told members of Congress. “Nothing is more important than the health, safety and wellbeing of our families, our military residents, our neighbors and the communities that we call home.”
For the full story link here…
12 December, Civil Beat, Christina Jedra: (Comment: This is a good historical summary of the Red Hill history) As Oahu residents reel from the news that military families’ drinking water was contaminated with petroleum, and that water for the broader community is also at risk, scrutiny of the nearby Navy’s fuel facility is intensifying.
But the crisis is not a surprise to many residents, officials and local environmental advocates. For years, they’ve considered Red Hill an inevitable environmental and public health disaster.
“My fear was that something terrible would happen before people wake up and this comes to their attention,” Ernie Lau, chief engineer of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, said this week.
The military said it caught wind of the emergency over Thanksgiving weekend as complaints rolled in from military housing residents saying that their water smelled of fuel and that their families and pets were falling ill. After initially dismissing concerns, the Navy later acknowledged that the Red Hill well that services that community was contaminated.
State health officials announced on Friday that the Navy’s water system contained levels of gasoline and diesel range hydrocarbons as much as 350 times higher than state standards for safe drinking water.
The cause of the problem is still under investigation, but the suspected source is the Navy’s World War II-era Red Hill fuel facility located uphill from the affected military communities.
A link to the full story is here
10 December HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Samples collected by the state Health Department earlier this month at the Navy’s Red Hill water shaft found petroleum levels 66 to 350 times higher than the limits considered safe for drinking water, the state announced Friday.
The results were the latest worrisome development in the contaminated water crisis, which has left dozens sick, displaced at least 3,000 families and prevented thousands more from using their tap water.
Meanwhile, Navy officials said during a legislative briefing Friday they believe they’ve found the source of the contamination ― a spill on Nov. 20 at a fire suppression system downhill from Red Hill and not the underground fuel tanks that have been the source of a number of leaks in recent years.
“The Navy is responsible for this crisis,” Adm. Samuel Paparo, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, told lawmakers. “We are taking ownership and we are going to fix it.”
At the briefing, U.S. Pacific Fleet Deputy Commander Blake Converse said Navy tests have confirmed the petroleum in the Red Hill shaft is jet fuel from a relatively new spill.
He said they believe “with a high degree of confidence” that the contamination is from the Nov. 20 spill of jet fuel from a fire suppression drain line in the tunnel downhill of the Red Hill bulk fuel storage tanks. The Navy has said that 14,000 gallons of fuel and water were released in that incident.
Eight days after the spill, military families first started reporting a bad smell and taste in the water. Some said it made them sick, and the Health Department has gotten 600 complaints so far.
Converse stressed they don’t think the fuel is from the underground Red Hill fuel tanks.
In response to those claims, lawmakers expressed skepticism, saying they wanted confirmation about the source of the fuel from the state Health Department and EPA.
The state Health Department says the cause of the leak remains under investigation.
“The Navy, frankly, lately hasn’t given us a lot of reason to trust them so I think we all feel that we want an independent agency to come in and verify,” said House Environment Chair Nicole Lowen.
For the rest of the story
6 December, HONOLULU (Tribune News Service) Peter Boylan — Gov. David Ige and Hawaii’s congressional delegation on Sunday called for the Navy to suspend its Red Hill fuel storage operation until its drinking water contamination crisis is handled.
The Navy on Thursday said recent testing of its Red Hill well detected the presence of petroleum contaminants. Hundreds of military and nonmilitary users of the Navy’s water system last week complained of a strong fuel odor in the water, including some who reported feeling ill or having pets who became sick after drinking water.
Ige and U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, and Reps. Ed Case and Kai Kahele, all Democrats, released a joint statement calling for the Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, who is in Hawaii for the 80th anniversary of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, to suspend Red Hill operations in the aftermath of the contamination of drinking water at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and surrounding areas.
“Test results confirming contamination of drinking water … show that the Navy is not effectively operating the World War II-era facility and protecting the health and safety of the people of Hawaii. We are calling for the Navy to immediately suspend operations at Red Hill while they confront and remedy this crisis,“ the joint statement said.
Del Toro did not respond to Honolulu Star-Advertiser requests for comment on the joint statement. Also, Rear Adm. Timothy J. Kott, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, was not available for an interview Sunday night, according to a spokeswoman.
During a town hall meeting about the Navy’s response to the crisis, held Sunday at the Hokulani Community Center, Del Toro declined to answer questions from the Star-Advertiser about the future of the Red Hill storage facility. “I’m here to listen,“ he told the Star-Advertiser.
Starting in, water samples taken by the Navy from its Red Hill drinking water well and tested at a commercial facility showed petroleum contamination, the Star-Advertiser reported Sunday. Petroleum also showed up in Red Hill drinking water samples in August and September. The Navy shut down the Red Hill water shaft on Nov. 28 as Department of Defense families began reporting the smell of fuel coming from their tap water, chemical odors, bad tastes, and a strange sheen.
Since suspension of use of the shaft, many residents said they developed skin rashes, nausea, headaches and vomiting. Others reported pets falling sick.
On Sunday, Capt. Erik Spitzer, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, issued a public apology, acknowledging that the Navy was wrong about the water being safe for drinking or bathing. Spitzer also apologized for a notice issued to military housing residents on Nov. 29 that indicated the water was safe. “My staff and I are drinking the water on base this morning, and many of my team live in housing and drink and use the water as well,“ said Spitzer in the notice.
To see the rest of the article…
Civil Beat, Christina Jedra, December 1 2021, As officials wait for answers about the source of petroleum contamination in the water near Red Hill, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply is pumping water from one of its wells, the Halawa shaft, at half the rate it normally does as a “precautionary measure,” the agency said on Wednesday.
The water board typically pumps 10 million gallons per day from the Halawa shaft, which provides water to over 400,000 people from Moanalua to Hawaii Kai – over 20% of the water for the area.
As of Wednesday, it was pumping at a rate of 5 million gallons per day.
The move shows that the island agency in charge of delivering clean water to metropolitan Honolulu and beyond is taking seriously the possibility that the island’s drinking water could be at risk.
“Right now, it almost looks like a disaster unfolding before our eyes,” Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer Ernie Lau said.
The Board of Water Supply slowed its pumping amid reports that military housing residents are being sickened by water that smells like fuel and after the Navy stopped pumping at its own Red Hill shaft on Sunday.
On Wednesday, the Hawaii Department of Health announced that preliminary testing detected petroleum in a water sample from Red Hill Elementary School but said details and the source of the problem are still under investigation.
Without the announcement of an official cause, residents have wondered whether their symptoms are connected to a 14,000-gallon spill of fuel and water from a pipeline a quarter-mile downhill from the Red Hill fuel facility on Nov. 20. The World War II-era fuel farm is made up of 20 massive tanks and a system of pipelines, and the Red Hill water shaft is located a half-mile away.
For the rest of the story from Civil Beat see it here
Civil Beat, Nick Grube, December, (LK Comment: State of Hawaii water officials have raised their concerns about the Red Hill Fuel tanks and their slow leaks for decades, but the Navy has downplayed the problems and has been slow in remediating the issue) WASHINGTON — Hawaii Rep. Kai Kahele demanded answers from a top Navy official Thursday about petroleum contamination in the drinking water at Red Hill on Oahu.
Kahele asked Vice Admiral Rick Williamson, who was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, about how the Navy planned to respond to the crisis, which so far has resulted in almost 100,000 people being told not to drink tap water while federal, state and county officials scramble to respond.
“The Navy is currently experiencing a crisis of astronomical proportions in Hawaii,” Kahele said. “People are getting sick, animals are getting sick and our military families need answers. The island of Oahu needs answers.”
See the rest of the article here