HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Health said water collected from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility determined there are heightened levels of petroleum in both soil vapor and groundwater across multiple sites.

The water samples were collected from May 12, 2021, to Jan. 3 and DOH said detections have been mostly oil and diesel.

We are moving forward methodically based on science to protect public health and the environment,” said Kathleen Ho, deputy director of Environmental Health. “While the data we have is neither complete nor conclusive, we are working with our partners to learn more and take appropriate measures to protect our water resources. People’s lives, and the health of our ecosystem are at stake, and we need more data before drawing conclusions.”

Although Red Hill Facility has been known to have several fuel spills throughout the years, DOH says, water sample reports are not reliable enough to understand the water patterns. It seems the water contamination is on and off, with no consistent timeframe of when the wells could get contaminated again.

According to DOH, elevated detections of fuel products in groundwater and soil vapor monitoring in individual sampling locations may drop to normal levels and then show up again in days or weeks.

If the Navy stopped using its Red Hill Shaft and Aiea Halawa Shaft water wells, DOH said turning off these pumps combined with the BWS suspension of pumping at its Halawa well affected the movement of groundwater, which could, in turn, affect monitoring well data.

With no clear answers, Ho urges the Navy to follow DOH’s lead.

I want to emphasize that for residents of Oʻahu who are on the BWS system, the water remains safe to drink,” said Kathleen Ho. “The long-term remedy to this issue is to render the Red Hill facility safe by removing fuel from the underground storage tanks. It is imperative that the Navy comply with DOH’s order.”

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