HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a cart that was being driven inside of a Red Hill Navy Facility tunnel rammed into a pipe and ruptured it. The accident caused fuel to leak out from the pipe and has now been linked to the water contamination of a Navy well.
While Navy officials continue to investigate, they have identified human error as the cause of a fuel spill on Nov. 20.
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On Wednesday, Dec. 29, the Navy told state lawmakers that decontaminating its fuel-contaminated water will take longer than expected — possibly until the end of January 2022. They also said that affected families can start to move back into their homes in phases when in-home flushing is finished in their neighborhoods.
While the flushing at the Pearl City Peninsula was completed at the “system” level, additional flushing began Wednesday after being delayed by mainland test results due to needing approval from the EPA and Hawaii Department of Health. Once both of these agencies gave the all-clear, the first neighborhood started to get their in-house pipes and appliance purged of the contaminated water.
“Aliamanu neighborhoods, Red hill neighborhood, as well as Hale Moku and Hokulani are all complete with their system flush, and all results are at the lab on the mainland,” stated Capt. Darren Guenther, Navy Region Hawaii chief of state.
So far, test results taken from the water have come back without any detectable fuel levels, according to the Navy.
Other neighborhoods’ system flushing continues to be underway as the Moanalua Terrace is about 40% complete. Additionally, the Onizuka Village area of Hickam is about 80% finished.
“Now we’re going back to do a thorough flushing and validation that we’ve cleared out all the possible locations, but we’re not seeing them in the samples we’ve seen — which is a good thing,” explained Rear Adm. Blake Converse of the United States Navy. “It tells us it’s not persistent in the water in the distribution lines, but we’re gonna still flush them again to make sure.”
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A database of water test data will be made available to the public soon, and lab equipment worth $300,000 will be shipped to Hawaii in order for local testing to be done.