Navy answers community questions; US Congressman Ed Case says Navy’s handling of water issues is ‘critical failing’

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — The ongoing water contamination issues at military housing facilities on Oahu have sparked military and government officials to host several meetings since the issue was first reported Sunday, Nov. 28.

On Sunday, Dec. 5, the Navy will host another virtual town hall meeting at the Hokulani Community Center at 3 p.m. to provide updated information and discuss the water issue with affected residents.

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The Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro and the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday were both present at the meeting.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said their goal is to provide a safe environment for not only military housing residents but also the Oahu community. Read Adm. Blake Converse, Deputy Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said there are now over 700 military housing residents that have been put up in hotels, as well as laundry and showering services set up.

In a statement from the Joint Base Commander Capt. Erik Spitzer posted on the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Facebook:

Watch the Navy’s full town hall meeting below:

Also on Sunday, United States Congressman Ed Case discussed the Navy’s water system after his visit with military and local leaders at a news conference. He shared his findings and his views regarding the issue.

“Obviously our trust in our Navy to operate, not only the Red Hill fuel tanks but the entire Navy water distribution has been seriously compromised at this point — if not broken. So, to expect the Navy, itself, to determine what happened and why, and to decide what to do about this — I don’t think is acceptable. It does have to involve a broader range of evaluation of oversight, of expertise, of looking over the Navy’s shoulder, and we are pursuing that at the congressional delegation,” stated Case. 

“That is why we asked the Navy to appoint its inspector general to review the operations of Red Hill in some respects and the inspector general is the independent arm of the Navy. It has no accountability at all. We may want to go further than that and have independent evaluations from outside just the inspector general, but somehow we have to get to the bottom of, not only what happened and why, but how to prevent it and how to deal with longer-term concerns.

United States Congressman Ed Case

Watch the full news conference with U.S. Congressman Ed Case below:

Case said a top priority is to help the families in Hawaii with their real-world problems regarding this water issue. He said arrangements are being made to find hotel rooms for families, along with transportation for children from the hotel to their school.

According to Case, the priority is to take care of the folks who need clean water, as well as figure out what happened in order to prevent it from happening again in the future.

He would also like to see more oversight on the Navy and better collaboration amongst the agencies.

“The Navy has not been forthcoming with test results and with other information requested by the State of Hawaii and the EPA, and that is a critical failing that we cannot accept anymore. We have communicated that to the higher levels of the Navy at this point that the idea that this is your problem exclusively and you get to review the possibilities and to figure out what to do about it and figure out what to implement on your own without including anybody else, is not acceptable,” Case continued.

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