The Navy previously said it closed its Red Hill well on November 28 and that families living on the base had reported symptoms including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and skin problems.
U.S. Pacific Fleet Rear Admiral Deputy Commander Blake Converse said on Sunday that an oil spill had been confirmed to be the cause of the latest breach.
The order also demands that the Navy take immediate action to install a potable water treatment system at the Red Hill well, submit a work plan to assess the integrity of the system, and empty Red’s underground storage tanks. Hill within 30 days of corrective action.
The military offered all military and civilian employees living near the base the option of securing alternative accommodation, and Converse said on Sunday it was covering the cost of hotel rooms for more than 700 people.
In a town hall with Navy officials on Sunday, frustrated military families demanded action and accountability.
“I’m here to ask you why you weren’t a winger to protect my 13 month old son when I bathed him, when I gave him a cup full of water from my tap, when he would vomit for days,” said said a woman, who did not give her name, more and more moved. “I am here to ask you why you were not my winger because my husband and I had serious and mysterious symptoms such as ailments throat, heartburn, profuse and unusual sweating, headaches that cannot be alleviated, requiring several emergency room visits for additional medication, vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation, ”the woman asked. Marine.
Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday said on Monday that the first priority was to take care of those affected by the water contamination. “It includes medical care, food and water,” he told a press conference.
The Navy hopes to restore water service to residents soon, but “the key point here is that getting it right is more important than doing it quickly,” Gilday said. “Because what we don’t want to do is bring people home to restore service prematurely before we have the greatest confidence in this system, so that we don’t go through it again,” he said. declared.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro visited the storage facility on Monday and said the Navy was getting closer to determining the root cause of the water contamination.
“An investigation is underway by the US Pacific Fleet into the cause of the incident,” Del Toro said at the press conference. “Once this investigation is complete, we will review these findings and adjust our operating procedures, if necessary. “
The Honolulu Water Supply Board is also encouraging the Navy to remove fuel from the Red Hill storage facility, Ernest Lau, director and chief engineer of BWS, told CNN.
Lau suspended operation of the Halawa well on Thursday. The well is Oahu’s largest source of water serving Honolulu residents and comes from the same aquifer as the Navy’s Red Hill well. Lau said he will not resume operations at Halawa until fuel is removed from Red Hill.
Honolulu now relies on its other wells to maintain water service to its customers, which Lau says isn’t a huge problem during the current rainy season, but the system could become strained during the summer months.
A story of fuel leaks
Records show a history of fuel leaks affecting Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam over the past decade, with the most recent leak occurring 11 days before the Navy announced it had discovered contamination in the well. Red Hill, CNN previously reported.
“An investigation determined that an operator error caused the release of 1,618 gallons of jet fuel (JP-5) from a pipeline inside the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility ( RHBFSF) on May 6, 2021, ”said the Navy. “The leak was not from the fuel tanks. “
In October, the Hawaii Department of Health cited the Navy for violations related to the operation and maintenance of the facility, records show. The fines and infractions result from a routine inspection from September 28, 2020 to October 9, 2020, according to the Department of Health.
The Notice of Violation and Order (NOVO) included five counts with a total penalty amounting to $ 325,182, the Hawaii Department of Health said in a press release.
The five counts, the Hawaii Department of Health said in a press release, were:
- Failure to operate and maintain continuous corrosion protection of metallic components of the portion of the tank and Navy piping which contain controlled substances and are in contact with the ground.
- Failure to perform leak testing of repaired piping prior to return to service.
- Failure to perform annual liquid tightness test on spill prevention equipment to avoid release to the environment.
- Failure to perform adequate visual inspection of hydrant pits
- Failure to maintain adequate release detection for two double-walled underground product recovery storage tanks.
CNN’s Jack Hannah and Kelly McCleary contributed to this report.