Frustrations grow as businesses, military families grapple with tainted water

Several businesses were without water Wednesday, and families say the Navy's advice to flush the water in their homes made the problems worse.
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 7:14 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2021 at 7:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid an investigation into tainted water from the Pearl Harbor-Hickam system, frustrations are growing among businesses and military families who don’t have easy access to clean water.

Several commercial businesses went without drinkable water on Wednesday while some families say the Navy’s advice to flush water from their faucets made the problem worse.

The United States Postal Services’ main processing facility near the airport confirms that it does get its water from the Navy’s water line.

The post office is open, but employees were told not to drink the water.

This comes as state health officials advised all 93,000 people who use the Navy’s water system to avoid using the water for drinking, cooking or oral hygiene.

The Navy Exchange was also open, but the food court was closed. Workers also opened taps to flush out the water outside the NEX.

“They are running the faucets outside the building and they have signs all throughout the food court saying that due to the water contamination they are shut down,” said Cyndi Gomez, who lives in Aliamanu Military Reservation.

Gomez says she did what the Navy told her to do, which was to flush the water to release the contaminants. But, she and other residents — like Bonnie Russell, who lives in Catlin Park — say that released even more fuel fumes into their homes.

“My house began to smell like a gas station and I couldn’t breath. I was choking. I opened all the windows for ventilation, but it still took quite a while for the fumes to clear,” said Russell.

The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center also had signs that said “no potable water” and that bottled water was for sale.

The National Park Service says no strange odors were detected — all this comes just days before the Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor commemoration, which is to be attended by the Secretary of the Navy.

Meanwhile, two women who are visiting their loved ones in military housing in Moanalua Terrace say they are worried about a baby in the family.

“The main concern is the newborn because we have to wash bottles and she has to drink milk and stuff like that,” said Sandra Ramirez.

Health officials also said Wednesday that while the fumes are noxious, they don’t believe there are any long term health impacts. They are advising residents to ventilate their homes.

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