HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first Red Hill Defueling Information Sharing Forum was conducted without media and members of the public in attendance.

Those who have dealt with impacts of the contamination were not very happy about the apparent lack of transparency.

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Those invited to the Forum at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam on Friday, Nov. 18 included elected representatives, stakeholders and local community members. The public and media were not included.

“I would say that this has been the Navy’s definition of transparency, to keep us in the dark. They have kept us in the dark; they have left us behind,” said Maj. Amanda Feindt, an active duty servicemember of the Army.

Maj. Feindt said fuel in the pipes of her Ford Island home poisoned her family and messaging from the military has been far from on point since November, 2021.

“That is consistent: The fact that they’re not being transparent; and you know, I think it’s a real shame when we are finding this information out. We’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off!”

Maj. Amanda Feindt, US Army active duty servicemember

The Board of Water Supply, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement were all invited, but a notable omission was the Oahu Water Protectors — a community group that advocates for the immediate defueling of Red Hill.

“We’re raising our families on this island. We plan to have our children grow up and live here, and our grandchildren grow up and live here. And, that is the voice that is missing,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale, spokesperson for Oahu Water Protectors.

One person with an invite to the Forum was Jeff Mikulina, former executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation and chapter president of the Sierra Club.

Mikulina told KHON2 that he was grateful the Navy did something, but he will push for more public involvement.

“I think that’s a good question to raise, you know, ‘Why aren’t they being more transparent about it?’ But again, grateful that the Navy is doing this,” Mikulina said.

“I think we’ll be doing a lot of listening; and ultimately, it’s going to be about holding the Navy accountable.”

Jeff Mikulina, climate consultant

Joint Task Force Red Hill said on Thursday, Nov. 17 that the Defueling Information Sharing Forum would not be open to media or the public due to an agreement with members.

Sonoda-Pale had a message to the top brass running the Forum.

“Stop playing games with us and do the job that you need to get done,” she said. “It’s one year later, and there’s still fuel sitting above our aquifer.”

Officials said there will be a one-year update of Red Hill from Department of Defense officials on Monday, Nov. 21 that will be open to media.

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In a recent statement by the Joint Task Force, Red Hill Public Affairs said:

“The Defueling Information Sharing Forum is meant to be a constructive venue in which information and sincere feedback regarding the Red Hill defueling effort is shared. JTF-RH is committed to being transparent, and will be involved in upcoming town halls where affected families will have the chance to participate.”