Navy suspends use of military tank fleet over Hawaii aquifer


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By The Associated Press on December 6, 2021.

This photo shows a tunnel inside the Red Hill underground fuel storage facility in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on January 26, 2018. The State of Hawaii has said a laboratory has detected a petroleum product in a water sample from an elementary school near Pearl Harbor. The news comes as fuel from the Navy’s massive storage facility could contaminate Oahu’s water supply. (US Navy via AP)

HONOLULU (AP) – The U.S. Navy has suspended the use of a World War II fuel tank farm over an aquifer in Hawaii that provides nearly 20 percent of the world’s drinking water. Honolulu.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro made the announcement Monday during a briefing with reporters in Pearl Harbor after problems surfaced about two weeks ago on and near the base.

Nearly 1,000 military households complained that tap water smelled like fuel, and some also complained of suffering from physical ailments such as cramps and vomiting.

A water sample returned last week showed the presence of oil. The well is near the complex of underground fuel tanks which has been the source of multiple fuel leaks over the years.

Fuel from the tanks is used to fuel many US military ships and planes that patrol the Pacific Ocean.

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THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story is below.

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The governor of Hawaii and the congressional delegation called on the Navy to suspend operations of the WWII fuel tank farm that sits above an aquifer that supplies water to the city of Honolulu.

The elected leaders call comes as Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro is scheduled to hold a Monday afternoon press conference in Pearl Harbor to discuss the current Pearl Harbor tap water crisis.

The Navy said last week that a water sample from one of its wells showed the presence of oil. The well is near the complex of underground fuel tanks which has been the source of multiple fuel leaks over the years.

“Test results confirming drinking water contamination at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam show that the Navy is not effectively operating the WWII-era facility and is not protecting health and the safety of the people of Hawaii. We call on the Navy to immediately suspend operations at Red Hill as it confronts and remedies this crisis. said Sunday’s statement signed by Governor David Ige, US Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, and US Representatives Ed Cases and Kaiali’i Kahele, all Democrats.

The Navy’s water supply system serves approximately 93,000 people. Almost 1,000 military households have complained of the smell of tap water or of upset stomach and vomiting.

The Navy said it will flush clean water into the distribution system to remove residual petroleum products from the water. The process, along with testing, could take up to 10 days to ensure the water meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking standards.

The Navy is also committed to investigating how contaminants entered the well and addressing the issue.

Tap water problems plagued one of the most important military bases, housing submarines, ships and the commander of US forces in the Indo-Pacific region. They also threaten to endanger one of Honolulu’s most important aquifers and water sources.

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