Congressman Kahele had stern words for Navy officials in light of water crisis

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — As military families continue to struggle without running water, Congressman Kai Kahele had stern words for top Navy officials on Thursday, Dec. 2.

He did not mince words at Thursday’s Armed Services Committee hearing.

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“I am bringing up Red Hill today because the Navy is currently experiencing a crisis of astronomical proportions in Hawaii. The Navy’s water system is contaminated with petroleum,” explained Kahele.

He said he wants the Navy to look into draining more than 100 million gallons of fuel at the Red Hill storage facility. He also wants the Navy to step up with more answers and provide more help for struggling families.

“The Navy seems totally unprepared with the situation that has now impacted the military’s own service members and families. And what is happening on the ground in Hawaii right now is absolutely unacceptable.”

Congressman Kai Kahele

“You have our commitment to be completely transparent with the local government, to local people, our families, our sailors and with this committee,” said Vice Adm. Ricky Williamson.

This comes as families have now been living without clean, running water for at least four days.

“I accidentally rinsed my mouth the other night with contaminated water, and my mouth kind of felt numb afterward. I’m pregnant so I’m very concerned,” said Lataya Morter, a military housing resident.

Morter also has two young children, and she has not had a real shower. Washing dishes is a challenge, but those have become minor concerns.

“I am worried about the long-term ramifications of this. Obviously, I’m worried about birth defects with my baby and I’m worried about if the Navy will even admit there is a real problem,” added Morter.

There is also growing concern that the water source for urban Honolulu as the Halawa Shaft, which is less than a mile from the Red Hill Shaft, can be contaminated. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) has reduced output from the facility in half as a precaution — and just announced more safety measures.

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“Under the circumstances, we are going now to be weekly testing of our five wells that are closest to the Red Hill fuel facility rather than monthly testing,” said Ernie Lau, BWS manager.

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