HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Board of Water Supply Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau said chemicals consistent with gasoline called PAHs and petroleum hydrocarbons have been found in a Moanalua Valley monitoring well located about 1,500 feet southeast of the Red Hill facility.
“It is concerning,” Lau said. “We don’t find these type of contaminants in our drinking wells around the island.”
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BWS Water Quality Division Program Administrator Erwin Kawata said the results are especially alarming because they didn’t think the water would flow in that direction.
“It suggests that contamination from the Red Hill property is entering the Moanalua side of the tanks and that ground water can actually move towards Moanaluia Valley from the Red Hill tanks,” Kawata said.
BWS has been monitoring this test well since 2014 and said this is the first time they’ve found trace amounts of PAHs but want to assure the public their drinking water is safe.
“What we’re finding is in a portion of the aquifer in this location,” Lau explained. “It hasn’t gotten into our drinking water.”
This is just the latest after thousands of gallons of jet fuel spilled from the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Storage facility last year. The leak affected the drinking water of more than 90,000 residents.
The Navy accepted responsibility for the spill and pledged to make it right.
BWS shut down the Halawa Well, the Aiea Well and the Halawa Shaft after the spill. But the Moanalua Valley well remains open at least eight hours per day.
Attorney Kristina Baehr is representing families impacted by the Red Hill spill. She said this is just the beginning.
“I’m not surprised. I think we’re going to have more positive results,” she said. “if you if you have seen the video footage of jet fuel flowing, almost like a, like a water main break, right tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel were released between May and November of 2021. That jet fuel is going somewhere. And it’s going to contaminate more areas.”
According to Kawata, the level of contaminants barely meets the threshold for reporting, and that it does not pose a health risk.
But Lau said it is worrisome and he wants more testing to be done.
“What’s really important now is I think to really push forward with the investigation into the underground aquifer by looking outside the Navy property on both sides,” Lau said. “And to really try to expedite the drilling of these test wells to give us some idea of what’s happening underground in the ground water.”
“Again its all about the environment the aquifer and the impact of that facility on that aquifer and how this cannot be replaced,” Kawata explained. “We have an aquifer that cannot be replaced.”
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Kawata said that if PAHs do contaminate our main water source there is very little that can be done to remove them because there are so many chemicals involved.